It was one of those summer days where the threatening humid air crammed your lungs, perspiration suffocated your skin and ran in rivelets down your face even while you were standing still. Apart from the dreadful weather, it was a generally good and peaceful Sunday with an echoing, whispering quiet. I paced around, fingers twitching to do something, anything. I thought of going out for a sojourn but dismissed the idea as soon as I envisioned cramming in with the crowds on public transport and the malls. Naturally, I turned to my trusted therapeutic past time – baking. Yes, turning on the oven despite the stifling heat.
Now, I had a bevy of overripe avocados that were calling out to be used as quickly as possible. Banavocado Bread, an original recipe I am most proud of, was a befitting choice for the overripe avocados. However being the experimentalist, I decided to swap the bananas for equal portions of pumpkin mash. This was the story of Pumpkin Avocado Bread.
This bread is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. I used xanthan gum and orgran egg replacer as the binders. I am aware of the controversies surrounding xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is a bacteria-derived product made by fermenting glucose, sucrose, or lactose with the bacterium Xanthomonus campestris. After a four-day fermentation period, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a corn-based growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder. When added to a liquid medium, a slippery, sticky gum is formed, and this substance works well in holding baked goods together. Some people experience abdominal discomfort after consumption, possibly because of its extremely high fiber content (7 grams per tablespoon). There are also complaints of migraines and skin irritation. The lowdown is that xanthan gum is a pretty processed product and it is not my favorite binding agent (flax eggs give a better texture in my baking experiments), but I had an (expensive) bag to clear and wastage is one of the greatest sin. So there, you may use flax eggs if preferred.
The texture came out dense and hearty, almost fudge-like if you would say but sans the chocolate. It boasted an equally balanced flavor of mooshy pumpkin and buttery avocado, scattered with crunchy macadamia nuts and plump cranberries. And then, after the first hit, notes of warm cinnamon, ginger inch through the pore spaces to caress your palate. This is nothing like your usual quick loaf, because of the high proportion of ingredients-to-flour ratio, but I like it this way.
- 1 cup gluten-free flour
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon orgran egg replacer
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ tseaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup mashed avocado (about 1½ ripe avocados)
- ¾ cup mashed pumpkin
- 1-inch knob fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 4 tablespoons almond milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
- ¼ cup cranberries or other dried fruits
- ¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts (or other nuts)
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F / 180°C. Lightly oil a loaf pan and set aside. If using fresh pumpkin, cut the pumpkin into chunks, brush with coconut oil and lightly roast for 20 minutes. If using pumpkin puree, skip this step.
- In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Mash the avocado by hand (or food processor) to yield ¾ cup. Once pumpkin is roasted, puree the pumpkin in the food processor and measure out ¾ cup of mash.
- In the food processor, combine the avocado, pumpkin and remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth.
- Add wet mix to dry mix and fold in lightly.
- Pour out batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove bread from oven and let cool to room temperature before slicing.