Bread of the Month: Loafing beyond pumpkin spice

Despite my love of autumn, I have to admit I get sick of all the pumpkin spice. There, I said it. Maybe it’s more the homogeneous mainstream concept that pumpkin spice represents that is less appealing to my taste.Yes, it’s become the hallmark of the fall season (which, according to Starbucks began in August with their pumpkin spice latte), but by the time our world has become completely saturated with sticky sweet spice pumpkin spice in everything from coffee to English muffins, which pretty much occurs by the time October rolls around, I’m very ready to consider other fruits and other spices for my baking.

I return again to the little bread book of my childhood, Miriam B. Loo’s “Fresh-From-the-Oven Breads” (Current, Inc.; 1982), given to me by an adult who really saw who I was (or could be) before I did. No longer in print, the book is a treasure trove of bread recipes, from complex yeast creations to simple quick loaves. It was the latter I was seeking, feeling blah recently so that only the speedy gratification of baking up something in the space of an afternoon would settle my soul. And I can tell you, I wasn’t looking for pumpkin spice.

Fortunately, the book features a number of alternative that are as out-of-the-box as they are “fresh-from-the-oven.” I landed on a Carrot-Pineapple Loaf, spiced with ginger and mace…the child-spattered page made me think I had been here before. Such flavors, I believed, would be ideal and the ease and simplicity of whipping this recipe up quickly would also reboot my baking interests.

The bread begins as many quick breads do, with the blending of dry ingredients — flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger and mace (the outer covering of nutmeg, but nutmeg can be substituted).

Three eggs are whipped until fluffy, then sugar, a cup of oil (oh, moist!), and two cups of grated carrots are mixed in. I also added a little vanilla.

The flour mixture is added to the wet to make a very thick batter.

A cup of crushed pineapple, as well as a cup of chopped pecans (which I toasted) is blended into the batter, making it slightly wetter, but still thick.

The batter is distributed between two greased-and-floured pans (another bonus to the recipe is that it yields two loaves and suggests one for gifting or freezing).

The bread bakes up in about an hour, and tinges the air with spice — not heavy pumpkin spice — but a light lilt of the ginger and mace/nutmeg, as well as the fruity pineapple and a bottom note of buttery pecans.

To add to the anticipation, it’s suggested the breads be wrapped in foil and put in the fridge and not eaten until the next day. So much for quick bread! But I understood allowing the flavors to meld and the texture and moisture of the juicy pineapple be given a chance to permeate the loaves.

The next morning, I cut one golden loaf into thick slices, which were visibly flecked with shreds of pineapple and carrots and studded with rich pecans. I slathered one piece with butter (a wise move), and sunk my teeth in. Most of my senses had already been satisfied by making this bread, but tasting it was well-worth the wait. Slightly sweet, richly tender, nice light spices and the taste of pineapple and pecan with subtle tufts of carrot. It was simple, but more complex than an overload of that dominating pumpkin spice taste. If you’ve had enough of that, be open to the exploration — and recipes — of other options.

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