Thursday, October 21, 2010
When September finally relents and gives way to my favorite month, there are so many things for me to be excited about. Topping the list: The cooler weather and clouds I’ve been dreaming about since July, the World Series and the leaves changing. I know that sounds weird. Los Angeles isn’t supposed to have seasons, but we actually experience a little bit of fall. The one thing I really look forward to in October, though, is Halloween.
Some New York City residents go door-to-door with their kids in the apartment buildings where they live, but childhood in New York City usually means no trick-or-treating. Since he was born in the city, Max spent his first four years not knowing the joys of receiving candy from strangers, staying up way past his bedtime and eating so much sugar at one sitting that he starts to hallucinate. When we moved to Los Angeles, that all changed. The Halloweens we took Max trick-or-treating in Los Angeles far surpass any childhood memories I have.
Max still enjoys Halloween, though, at 18, he’s not outwardly excited about it and he no longer goes trick-or-treating. He usually gets together with friends, and, thankfully, he’s not doing the…spicy…things I was doing when I was his age. At least I don’t think he is, and until he’s brought home by the police, I have no reason to think otherwise.
Now, each Halloween I sit in my living room reading a book, as the porch lights guide the little Freddy Kruegers, vampires, princesses and witches to my front door and the big silver bowl of candy waiting to be emptied.
The action dies down pretty early here in the northeast San Fernando Valley. By 9 p.m. the last carload of teenagers who are too cool to dress up or walk street to street have driven off, the porch lights have been extinguished and the front door has been closed. I sequester the remaining candy to the pantry so I don’t eat myself into a chocolate coma. Next October I’ll divulge some of my wild adolescent Halloween adventures. I just have to make sure those activities have a statute of limitations, and that the statute of limitations has, in fact, run out.
Makes 1 loaf
October always gives me the urge to make something pumpkin-y. I also wanted to make something apple-y, so I decided to combine the two here.
I procured a 9x5 loaf pan, and it has changed my life. I was using an 8x4 loaf pan, and I couldn’t for the life of me get a decent quick bread. It would be hard and crusty on the outside and mushy pudding in the middle, and no matter how I altered the baking temperature or the wet ingredients, I couldn’t get it right. Until I bought the 9x5 loaf pan. (Cue: angel chorus.) If you want to go vegan with this, sub ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce for the eggs. This is flavorful, but not overly spicy, so if you want more spice, heck, add more spice.
Canola oil spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
1 cup pureed pumpkin
⅓ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium apple, cored, peeled and chopped (I like Fuji or Gala)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar for sanding
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9x5 loaf pan with canola oil.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients into wet until combined. Stir in apple and walnuts.
3. Pour batter into loaf pan and make sure it’s evenly distributed. The batter’s thick, so you need to use a bit of elbow grease to spread it. Sprinkle brown sugar over top of batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
4. Cool in loaf pan on rack for 20 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on rack before slicing and serving. This will last 2-3 days in an airtight container.