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Nn, M.D.

The Life Cycle of Pumpkin Jam

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I love seasonal baking because I feel very connected to the world around me, commemorating our shared experiences through my food.  And so, this October, I challenged myself to encapsulate the feeling on Spooky Season with a series of applications featuring the main attraction: pumpkin.  To be honest, I am not a fan of pumpkin, as it is a worse sweet potato in my opinion.  However, making it into something I would like was part of the fun of this challenge, and I think it went quite well.

To get the most mileage out of my gourd, I opted to make it into a jam.  This is a fairly common route for me to take when it comes to fruits/vegetables. Since it's difficult to incorporate the fruit flesh into a baked good without altering the texture, a jam gets around that by having a much smoother texture and some added sweetness, so at the very least you can add less sweetener. You'll notice the complete absence of spice here.  Although I did spice everything else I added to the pumpkin jam, I wanted the pumpkin to speak for itself here. So all I added was some brown sugar, orange juice, and salt to complement the natural sweetness, freshness, and umami of the pumpkin flesh.

 

Nn, M.D.'s Pumpkin Jam

- 2 pie pumpkins, halved with flesh/seeds scooped

- brown sugar

- juice of one orange

- pinch of sea salt

 

1. Place pumpkin halves face down on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Roast in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes until fork tender. Remove and leave to cool on pan for 1-2 hours until completely cool.

2. Scoop out flesh and pass through a metal strainer to remove fibers.  I got about 450-500g of pumpkin puree from 2 pie pumpkins.

3. Add pumpkin and an equal weight of brown sugar to a medium saucepan. Squeeze in the juice of one orange and add a pinch of sea salt.

4. Turn on stove to medium-high until you reach a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and keep boiling until thickened to your desired thickness.  I boiled mine for about 15 minutes and got a nice pliable texture.

 

From here, the possibilities are endless. Below I have a few examples of how I styled my jam, but this is by no means comprehensive.  Really, the jam is the starting point and what you do with it is up to you!

 

1. Pumpkin-spiced angel food cake with pumpkin buttercream-cheese frosting

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"Pumpkin spice" is no more than cinnamon : nutmeg : ginger : clove in a 4:2:2:1 ratio.  So that is how I flavored my cake, along with some vanilla bean paste.  The cake was airy and light and beautifully tender, a perfect compliment to the frosting.  It's based on a French buttercream, where I used the pumpkin jam to provide all the sweetness as well as the remaining egg yolks left over from the cake.  For fat, I used half butter and half cream cheese, as I wanted the tang along with the richness that cream cheese provides.  A beautiful cake with beautiful contrasting flavors.

 

2. Pumpkin bread cookies

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Using the remainder of the frosting and an additional dose of the pumpkin spice blend, I added some flour, baking powder and baking soda to the mix and rolled each ball of dough in sugar. The resulting cookies where wonderfully spiced with the earthiness of the pumpkin in the background. And because of the cream cheese and egg yolks in the frosting, the cookies remained beautifully tender with an interior closer to pumpkin bread than cookie.

 

3. Pumpkin & peanut butter blondies

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The blondie base was fairly basic, just adding about the same amount of peanut butter as I did regular butter to the batter. I also shaved in some fresh nutmeg and added some vanilla extract.  The pumpkin jam was swirled into the batter and left to bake for about 45 minutes. The result was a rich, decadent morsel that drew you in for seconds and thirds and fourths.

 

4. Pumpkin buns with cream cheese frosting

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Trust me, there is pumpkin jam in there.  I added the famed pumpkin spice blend to the dough base and then rolled it up with the pumpkin jam in the middle.  While warm, I covered the buns in a simple cream cheese glaze and devoured almost the entire lot.

 

*5. Vegan pumpkin-spiced tacos

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Ok hear me out, I know this isn't baking but I'm still quite proud of how delicious this was.  To use the last of my jam, I made some basic seitan (mock meat made with wheat gluten) that I ground up using my food processor. It has a strikingly similar texture and taste to ground meat and can fool most meat eaters.  I sautéed this on medium heat with some onion, jalapeño, garlic, some fresh ground nutmeg, cumin, coriander, paprika, and my pumpkin jam, as well as a little unsweetened soy milk to deglaze everything (soy milk contains glutamic acid and can amplify the umami of whatever dish it's added to). The onions were pickled in a brine of vinegar, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and whole clove to give a sweet but unctuous depth to them.  The greens are actually a simple slaw of baby kale, cilantro, powdered crystalized ginger, lime juice, and salt (which I recommend making ahead of time and tossing every so often to let the juices come out).  As you can see, the pumpkin spice blend is reiterated, this time deconstructed [cinnamon & clove + nutmeg + ginger].  I made a chipotle mayo using silken tofu as the base in place of egg yolks.  I added 3 chipotles and some of the sauce for some extra kick. Served on some warm tortillas with some avocado slices, this is both comforting and satisfying vegan eating.

 

So that is it, my treatise on pumpkin jam and it's many uses. I hope that I have inspired you to take a theme and beat it to death.  All jokes aside, this type of baking helps push my skills to the next level, so I relish in the opportunity to do things like this.  I hope you will find a similar joy.

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OK I will be the idiot (my Dean says yes you are)  If something does not speak taste wise  - let it go - I tried once with a mild squash with phyllo - but

.but no culinary go to

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4 hours ago, heidih said:

OK I will be the idiot (my Dean says yes you are)  If something does not speak taste wise  - let it go - I tried once with a mild squash with phyllo - but

.but no culinary go to

But he was intent on making a silk purse out of a sows ear and it looks to me like he succeeded!

 

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5 hours ago, heidih said:

OK I will be the idiot (my Dean says yes you are)  If something does not speak taste wise  - let it go - I tried once with a mild squash with phyllo - but

.but no culinary go to

I know what you mean. I recently grilled some delicata squash and although there was some caramelized sweetness going on, there was a lot of savory overtone that I think would not work in dessert applications. But pumpkin is a little sweeter naturally, and the addition of spices, particularly nutmeg and cloves, help to bring out the natural sweetness. Brown sugar and orange are both slightly acidic as well, and that sharpness when paired with the earthiness of the pumpkin makes it taste balanced.


Edited by Nn, M.D. (log)
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2 hours ago, Nn, M.D. said:

I know what you mean. I recently grilled some delicata squash and although there was some caramelized sweetness going on, there was a lot of savory overtone that I think would not work in dessert applications. But pumpkin is a little sweeter naturally, and the addition of spices, particularly nutmeg and cloves, help to bring out the natural sweetness. Brown sugar and orange are both slightly acidic as well, and that sharpness when paired with the earthiness of the pumpkin makes it taste balanced.

 

 

Gosh I had to google - I used an oversize pattypan. The really big one made a lovely dip container for a party. Those silly squash can hide under the leaves in our garden and oops- how did it get THAT big? Everyone thought it was ceramic!  The baking bit,- waste of time.  Oh well - the beauty of compost piles ;)

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