In these tasty little loaves, I’ve ported the deep, dark flavors from my chocolate gingerbread bars into a moist pumpkin bread. During the holidays, I use Black Mission figs that I chop into raisin-sized pieces. I’ve also used dried sour cherries with great success. If you don’t have either on hand, raisins will do. Enjoy! ;o) —AntoniaJames
250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup neutral oil (sunflower seed, canola, safflower, etc.)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ¾ cup (1 small can) organic pumpkin puree
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup chopped Black Mission figs (6-8 medium) (Don’t use the drier brown figs, please.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The shelf on which you’ll be baking the mini-loaves should 1/3 up from the bottom. Using a bit of vegetable oil, grease four mini loaf pans. (See note below.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, salt and spices.
Warm the oil until it’s hot to the touch. I do this in my Pyrex 1-cup measure in the microwave on full power for a minute.
In a large bowl, stir together the warm oil, molasses, brown sugar, cocoa and vanilla until well blended. Add the eggs. Beat well until thick, glossy, and thoroughly combined. (Tip: if you measure the molasses in the same measuring cup that you used to measure the oil, the molasses will slide right out.)
Stir half of the pumpkin puree into the wet ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients and stir to blend. Stir in the remaining pumpkin puree and the applesauce.
Toss the fig pieces with the remaining flour mixture. This helps to keep them from sticking together. Add the remaining flour, the figs and the chopped nuts to the batter. Stir until combined, but do not overbeat.
Bake for 25 – 28 minutes. Check by touching the center of each loaf gently with your index finger. If it springs back up, the loaf is ready. If not, bake for another 2 – 3 minutes and check again. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, and then gently remove to a cooling rack.
If your pans are not non-stick (and for the record, I lightly grease my supposedly non-stick ones) cut from parchment paper a sling to line the two long sides and bottom, with enough left on the sides to be able to lift the loaf out when done. Grease the ends and corners thoroughly.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)