pumpkin cornbread; pair it with chili

the change in season took me by surprise.  funny how that happens.  one day it is warm, actually a bit hot and then in the blink of an eye, it is cold and frosty.  chili seemed like the perfect solution for a dreary fall day.  in our house, it isn’t a proper bowl of chili unless there is a pan of cornbread on the table.

lurking in the fridge was an open container of pumpkin puree leftover from something i baked.  the idea of adding pumpkin to the cornbread recipe seemed natural to me.  it would add a little flavor, a little moisture and of course, some additional nutrition and fiber.  what i wasn’t expecting, that gorgeous golden color.  especially since i only added 1/3 cup of the puree to the recipe.

and, dinner is served…
to make the cornbread, i turned to my favorite cornbread recipe, it can be found on the albers website by following this link.  although i followed the recipe, i did make a few changes.  first, i reduced the sugar to 3 tablespoons because i did not want it to be sweet.  then i substituted and equal portion of buttermilk for the milk and finally, i added 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree by whisking it with the other wet ingredients.  by baking it in a 9″ round pan rather than the 8″ square called for in the recipe and the addition of the pumpkin did increase the baking time a bit, i had to check it for doneness by inserting a cake tester in the center.  it came out clean around the 30 minute mark in my oven.  and just a note for the leftovers, cornbread makes nice toast!  i cut wedges in half, horizontally and toasted them in the broiler.  they were tasty with a little butter.

orange-date walnut loaf

sometimes, you just have to do something different.  generally, when i go out to the garden, i take a cake with me.  nine out of ten cakes are some configuration of a bundt; they are baked in one of the many fluted/tube pans on my kitchen shelf.  not this time.  this cake was baked in a large loaf pan.

over the years, i have baked date-nut bread many times.  it is a favorite of my husband and me for that matter.  when i realized that i had a large tub of dates in the fridge, hidden there by my husband so that he could snack on them secretly, i knew i had to make a loaf of bread.

orange date-walnut loaf 
1 (9x5x3) loaf
(a little shameless self promotion, can’t help it…)
1 cup walnut pieces
6 ounces unsalted butter, soft
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup good quality wildflower honey
1 orange-zested
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chopped dates
2/3 cup sour cream
preheat the oven to 350.  grease and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan and set it aside.  place the walnuts into a baking dish and toast them until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, honey, orange zest and salt until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  add the eggs, one at a time and continue to beat until once again light and fluffy-another 2 minutes or so.  scrape the bowl well.
sift the flour and baking soda over the batter in the bowl.  fold it in by hand a few times.  add the walnuts, dates and sour cream and fold the batter until it is evenly mixed.  scrape the batter into the loaf pan.  bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about an hour.  immediately turn the loaf out onto a rack and allow it to cool completely, if you can.  serve slices with soft butter if you like.