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Just Good Food

by John Ryan

 

Pumpkin Streusel Bars

 

This is more of a cake, though it's not a very sweet one, so it can be a muffin alternative for breakfast. It's also good to pack for lunch or as a late afternoon snack.

Even after my tirade this month, I'm assuming that most cooks will use canned pumpkin, but if the spirit moves you, making pumpkin purée is not that bad.

 

Pumpkin Purée

Buy a small pumpkin meant for eating (as opposed to making jack-'o-lanterns). They'll be four or five pounds and hanging out with the other winter squash. Huge, Halloween pumpkins usually have their own area.

Anyway, there's a couple ways to do it:

Plan A: Use a knife to peel the pumpkin (lop off the bottom so the pumpkin sits steady, then cut the skin off in strips from top to bottom). Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds. Dice the flesh and steam it until it's mashably tender, 20 minutes or so. Let it cool uncovered to let as much water go up in steam as possible, then mash with a fork or press it through a ricer, or put it through a food processor.

Plan B: Cut out the top and scrape out the seeds (like you'd do when you carve a Halloween pumpkin). Then bake the sucker at 350 degrees until the flesh is soft—1 to 2 hours, depending on how thick the pumpkin flesh is. When you poke the pumpkin and it's quite soft, it's done. Scrape out the flesh and mash it. Voila, pumpkin purée.

If either method gives you a watery purée, gently cook it down a bit in a sauce pan. A 6-pound pumpkin will give you approximately 6 cups of purée. Freeze what you don't use. [back to the recipe]

You need...
1 hour
9 x 13-inch cake pan
350 degree oven

 

Streusel topping:
6 tablespoons butter, cold
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup flour

Cake:
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, very soft
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

 

Set up:
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees, then use a butter wrapper to smear the bottom and sides of a cake pan with butter—don't miss any spots. Shake a couple spoonfuls of flour around the bottom and sides, then turn it over and tap out excess flour. Set the pan aside and make the streusel topping.

Streusel:
Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is uniform and crumbly. Set it aside for now.

To make the cake:
1) Mash the butter and sugar together, then beat in the eggs. When smooth, stir in the milk and pumpkin.

2) Sift the dry ingredients together and dump them in all at once. Stir just enough to make a uniform batter.

3) Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and sprinkle the streusel topping over the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. When the cake is done the center will be puffy and a toothpick poked in the center will come out with a few clinging crumbs.

 

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John Ryan

Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.

 
Paris
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This page created October 1998


 

 
 

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