Remote learning, empty football stadiums, no trick or treating: Fall may look and feel very different this year, but at least there are still plenty of pumpkins to be picked and pumpkin treats to eat.
For carving and pumpkinseed roasting, standard jack-o’-lantern, or field, pumpkins will do just fine, but for eating, look for small, round “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” To roast, cut them in half, and remove and reserve the seeds. Brush both sides of the pumpkin with olive oil. Place flesh-side down on a sheet pan lined with parchment and roast at 425 degrees until you can easily pierce the skin with a fork, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool, scoop out the flesh and purée in a food processor until smooth, adding a little water if necessary to loosen. There you have it: pumpkin purée that will work in all manner of baked goods, from pumpkin pie to pumpkin blondies.
Use two cups of the purée to make Samantha Seneviratne’s pumpkin bread, an unfussy classic that lends itself to improvisation. Toss in a handful of chocolate chips, dried cranberries or chopped pecans to jazz it up. Or leave it plain and slather slices with butter. (If you don’t have fresh pumpkin, make it with one 15-ounce can of pumpkin, but not pumpkin-pie filling.)
By all means, don’t let the seeds go to waste. Once you remove all of the stringy gunk, roast the seeds with a little olive oil, salt and spices: Add za’atar, or cinnamon and cayenne in Step 3 with the oil and salt. Pumpkin seeds are the ideal autumnal snack, whether you’re on a hay ride or on your couch waiting for election results to roll in.
By Samantha Seneviratne
Yield: 1 loaf (about 10 servings)
Time: 1 ½ hours
½ cup/120 milliliters vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan
2 ¼ cups/285 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
About 2 cups pumpkin purée or 1 (15-ounce) can
1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
¾ cup/165 grams packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup/60 milliliters full-fat sour cream or plain yogurt
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8 ½- or 9-inch loaf pan; line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until fully combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.
3. Bake until the loaf is puffed and set, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 60 to 75 minutes. Transfer the bread, in the pan, to a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Use a paring knife to cut the two exposed sides of bread away from the pan, then use the parchment to transfer the cake to the rack. Let cool completely.
By Ali Slagle
Yield: 1 cup
Time: 40 minutes
1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. To clean the pumpkin seeds of pumpkin slime and flesh, put the seeds in a large bowl filled with cold water. The seeds will float to the top. Skim them out with your hands, pulling away any flesh that’s stuck on the seeds. Shake the seeds in your hand to get of any excess water, then transfer to a baking sheet.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pat the seeds down with a paper towel, then toast them until they are dry and tacky, about 5 minutes.
3. Pull the baking sheet out of the oven. Drizzle the seeds with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat, then spread into an even layer. Return seeds to oven, and bake, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
4. Let cool. Seeds will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.