Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pumpkin Walnut Bread - Eggless

Pumpkin is not a well liked vegetable by certain members of this house because of its sweet taste which "spoils" the taste of the dish. *ahem*.
, on the other hand, love its orange flesh, the way it takes on the flavours of the dish it is cooked in - spicy if put into a puli kuzhambu or sambar, mustardy with potatoes in a typical Bengali dish, plumping up the volume of a soup, melding beautifully into this risotto and sweet when put into a pie.

The ones we get here are usually those huge green and white streaked ones.....simply called "kaddu" - no differentiation into varieties (I wouldn't know a kabochon if it stared me in the face!). Just ask the sabziwallah to cut a 500gm piece and you're good for a week.

Well, this time our friendly neighbourhood Mother Dairy outlet had the smaller variety. Peach coloured skin and a nice plump shape. I picked it up immediately; I would figure out what to do with it later. A couple of days later, I remembered a pumpkin loaf recipe I had seen on Elise's Simply Recipes - the recipe was adapted from Fannie Farmer and seemed fuss-free.

I laid out the pumpkin to roast in the oven while I went out and finished some chores. When I came back, the pumpkin flesh was cooked and ready. l I started removing the rest of the ingredients for the bread - and then discovered that there were no eggs at home! I hate when this happens (as if I have anyone else to blame but myself) and then my latent substitution avatar just takes over.
The prospect of going out even for the 3 minute walk to the store to buy eggs was just too much to contemplate in the heat of the afternoon. Technically, I could have waited till evening, but nope- I HAD to finish baking the bread then and there!

I remembered baking a Walnut & Ginger Bite ring sometime back which didn't have eggs, so I knew it was possible. I went to work modifying the original recipe. Eggs basically bind the ingredients or help in rising, so I put in one teaspoon of baking powder for the leavening and though the pumpkin may have been enough for the moisture, I added half a ripe banana as well.

The bread was a beautiful brown colour when it came out of the oven and the house was redolent with the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg. It had a brown crust and a nice moist texture to it. Not too sweet so I didn't mind having it with breakfast and it makes a great tea time treat too. If you want to have it for dessert, its delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It tasted even better the next day, something I have often found with baked stuff.

I do have a theory about cinnamon though - I think it heightens the taste of salt in a dish - its happened in a restaurant once and with a carrot cake I baked a couple of years back. This time too, though not very salty, you could taste a bit of salt in the bread and I think it was because of the cinnamon in it.

Susan of Food Blogga is hosting Beautiful Bones - an Osteoporosis Food Event "to alert women to the potential risks of osteoporosis and encourage them to take steps to protect their bones at every age". This event is on the whole month of May which is National Osteporosis Awareness Month.Along with anaemia, Indian women are particularly susceptible to osteoporosis; genetics have much to do with it (Asians and Caucasian women are at greater risk) but also the fact that a high percentage of Indian women suffer a great deal from malnutrition - either due to a poor diet while growing up (many times due to a gender bias) or their own negligence of their health while taking care of the others in the family. It is estimated that 50% of healthy Indian women over 50 years of age have low bone mass.

I got concerned with this gap when I saw a direct correlation between the reduced intake of calcium in my MILs diet and her increasing joint problems and reduced bone mass. She put it down to age, but I connected to the fact that she was consistently reducing her milk, yoghurt and other calcium intake after my FIL died (culturally ingrained reactions to societal pressure are a whole another post!)

A diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D (adequate vitamin D is required for proper absorption of calcium) during childhood and adolescence goes a long way in preventing osteoporosis later.
But that doesn't mean that calcium is not as important after your teens. Women in the age group 25-50 years required 1000mg of calcium per day while women over 65 years of age require 1500 mg per day.

Don't feel like glugging a glass of milk everyday? Milk is not the only source of calcium; in fact it is difficult to digest and may not give you all the calcium you need. Think of other calcium rich sources:

1. Leafy greens like spinach (paalak), lettuce, spring onion greens and other local greens (keerai) like methi (fenugreek), suva (dill), sarson (mustard greens), khatta paalak, haak, molai keerai/arai keerai/siru keerai(all amaranth varieties), murunga keerai(drumstick leaves),agathi keerai,poonaganni keerai,pulichai keerai,manathakali keerai.

2. Vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, green beans, bhindi (okra), pumpkin/squash, radish (mooli) , cauliflower, carrots, eggplant (brinjal), brussel sprouts, asparagus and celery

3. Herbs and spices like coriander, basil, thyme, rosemary, fennel, oregano, garlic, cloves and cinnamon.

4. Nuts,seeds and beans like sesame seeds (til), mustard seeds (rai), walnut (akhrot), almond (badaam), cashewnut (kaju), kidney beans (rajma, lobia), chickpeas (kabuli chana, kadala), water chestnuts (singhada), lotus seeds (makhana), melon seeds.

5. Fruits like tomatoes, oranges, guava, banana, chikoo (sapodilla), coconut, figs (anjeer) and custard apple

6. Milk products like yoghurt, cheese and paneer and Soy products like tofu, soya beans, soy milk

Apart from calcium intake, it is important that it gets absorbed by our body:

  • Vitamin D aids in absorption of calcium; sources rich in Vitamin D are
  • High consumption of sodium (salt) and caffeine (whether in coffee or colas) results in increased excretion of calcium.
  • Calcium through one's diet is better absorbed than through supplements.
  • While there are factors which may prevent complete absorption of calcium from sources like spinach, beets, celery and peanuts (oxalic acid) and whole grains, nuts and beans (phytic acid) - the decrease in the available quantity of calcium for absorption is relatively low.
  • Calcium interference with iron absorption or vice versa is not considered significant enough to affect normal intake when the intake of both is in typical moderate amounts.
Read more here on calcium, its importance, dietary sources and absorption.

While pumpkin is a moderate source of calcium (24mg per 1 cup) and cannot compare to greens and other vegetables in terms of calcium content, walnuts have about 100mg of calcium in every 100gm. What better excuse to indulge in this nutty bread!

Pumpkin Walnut Bread - Eggless


Skinned and cooked pumpkin - 1 1/4 cup
(I followed the recipe instructions, cut the pumpkin into 4 parts and kept them cut side down on foil, cooked them in a pre heated oven at 200 C for 45 minutes. When it was completely cooled, I scooped the cooked flesh out of the skin, measured out what I wanted and froze the rest of it; You can also skin and chop the pumpkin and steam cook the flesh)

Flour - 2 cups (I used wheat flour 1 cup and refined flour (maida) 1 cup)
Vegetable oil - 3/4 cup (the original recipe uses olive oil)
Brown sugar - 1 cup (more if you want the bread to be sweeter)
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp (I would reduce it to 1/4 tsp next time)
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
Grated nutmeg - 1 /2 tsp
Water - 1/2 cup
Ripe banana - 1/2 mashed
Chopped walnuts - 1/2 cup (lightly toast the walnuts for 3-4 minutes to remove the skin, cool and chop.)


1. Pre heat the oven to 180C (350F), grease a loaf tin or a ring mould and keep aside.
2. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda,baking powder, cinnamon powder and grated nutmeg together.
3. In a big bowl, mix the cooked pumpkin with the oil, mashed banana, water and sugar till well combined.
4. To this add the mixed dry ingredients a little at a time mixing just as much as needed. If you find the batter too thick, add milk a teaspoon at a time till you get the required consistency - not pouring consistency but spoon dropping type.
5. Mix in the chopped walnuts gently and spoon into the prepared loaf tin or ring mould.
6. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean. Mine took about 60 minutes but was quite moist inside and did not dry out.

Other calcium rich recipes:

Sindhi Sai Bhaji

Broccoli Soup


Passionate baker...& beyond said...

WOW Miri...what a great post. Can see the baker in you rising to eggless situations! I do so love it when it's time to innovate; you did a GREAT job!! I do belong to the kaddu & banana ahem group...very bad girl I am! I love your write-up too for Susan's event. I have been aware of 'strong bones' for as long as I remember & the amount of milk/calcium products consumed at our place is not funny! Investment in a healthy I say!!O BTW, wish you'd mentioned basil when you dropped by; would have given you a plant! Next time...cheers

Nupur said...

You make such a good point about the gender bias factors that play a role in a woman's diet all through her life. It is the year 2008, but we have such a long way to go in this respect. Very thoughtful post.

Dermdoc said...

Hello Miri,

This is a superb post. Not only do you show your resourcefulness with baking (great substitutions for the eggs!), but you also clearly illustrate an important (and underrepresented) concern about Indian women and osteoporosis. Many thanks for your highly informative post. I sincerely appreciate it and know my readers will too.

Oh, I almost to mention, I adore pumpkin. Adore it!


PS-You mentioned on my site that you mailed me the info., but I don't have it in my email or bulk email. Could you check, or if necessary, please re-send it? Thanks. :)

Miri said...

Thanks so much Deeba!!! I didn't even think about the basil when I came over - so busy getting to know you :) but will definitely think about it the next time!

Asha said...

Great informative post Miri. Love the eggless cake!:))

Nandita said...

I agree with what you have to say about pumpkin, it is quite an underrated vegetable for all the nutrition it packs...I love pumpkin in muffins and loaves.
Your looks luscious and golden and eggless at that :)

Miri said...

Thanks Nupur, it is something that disturbs me a lot - social conditioning like this works in various ways - not all of them are apparent...

Miri said...

Thanks for your kind words Susan - I have resent the mail, this time with the correct id ;)

ranji said...

lovely post miri....delicious bread!!!will definitely try it..

Uma said...

wonderful bread, that too eggless! looks so fluffy and delicious.

Kalai said...

Beautiful cake!! Doesn't look any different than a cake using eggs. Nice one! :)

Richa said...

lovely cake!
now who can resist a piece of that walnut cake, i say go for the calcium laden piece ;)

Medhaa said...

Lovely cake, will try this. Thanks for sharing

bhags said...

Great post, very informative and well speaks the truth about household gender bias in eating habits....
The bread looks nice and warm....