Pumpkin, corn & chilli loaf


 

DSCF0291A  month or so ago, we had a series of minor domestic disasters that led to a flood until the kitchen wall into the back pantry. During the resulting rapid relocation of the pantry’s contents, I uncovered a dehydrator. I always sorta kinda knew it was there but had never been that inspired to pull it out and give it a whirl.

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Post-disaster, since it was already sitting out there on the pool table, I removed the labels – it had never been used – and downloaded the manual. My first victim was a pumpkin that was at risk of passing its best-by date. Three -quarters of it, peeled and diced into 1cm chunks, nicely filled the dehydrators five trays.

I found that the recommended drying time was out by a factor of two i.e. I had to dry the pumpkin chunks twice as long as recommended in the manual. It doesn’t draw much power but is fairly noisy so it’ll be relocated into the newly-dried pantry for future dehydrating missions.

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Three-quarters of a largish pumpkin shrank down to about three cups of pumpkin chips.

Initially this was just a bit of an experiment and a useful fate for a pumpkin that was overstaying its welcome in the fridge. I wasn’t actually too sure what I was going to do with the end product. Then I saw this recipe in the Sunbeam manual…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups dried pumpkin pieces
  • 2 x 125g cans creamed corn
  • ¾ cup extra light sour cream
  • ½ cup coarsely grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 1 long fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Spray an 11 x 21cm loaf pan with cooking oil. Line the base and two long opposite sides with non-stick baking paper.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the pumpkin, corn, cream, cheese, eggs, butter and chilli. Stir the mix until just combined and spoon it into the pan, smoothing the surface.
  • Sprinkle the seeds over the top. Bake for about 1 hour 5 minutes or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
  • Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool slightly. Cut it into slices and serve warm.

Source: Sunbeam DT5600 Food dehydrator manual

It tastes great but is very heavy: a 1cm slice is a good light meal for me. I just drop it in the toaster til it’s nicely toasted and spread a thin layer of butter over the top. Tonight though, I used a very thin layer, maybe 1/2 a teaspoon, of chilli oil instead of butter…yeah, baby!! That rocked!!

In Seeing corn in a new light, I speculated whether heat  was the catalyst for the chilli effect in this oil.. After tonight’s experiment, I can confirm that this chilli oil is definitely self-initiating…

Insights

The pumpkin rehydrates nicely which is good. it is probably also too much pumpkin for a single loaf.I think it couple safely reduced by half especially if the chunks can be run through the grain mill (on a very coarse setting) into smaller bits.

The suggestion of a single chilli is ridiculous: this small amount is completely overwhelmed by the pumpkin and corn. 3-4 long chillies would be more effective.

Two cans of cream corm is overkill. I think that one can plus a cup of either coarse corn meal or drained corn kernels (or a half and half mix of both) might make this loaf less heavy (or more light).

The pumpkin and corn also beat up on the cheddar cheese. This might be better – in a smaller quantity – as topping added just before the loaf is removed from the oven i.e. just melted over the top…

Since I am now doing my own wheat grinding, the next version of this loaf may also use home-ground flour instead of store-bought flour. My goal is to ultimately only use home-ground wheat for all baking, reserving store-bought for mundane tasks like kneading surfaces…

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