That bite in the air. The clear blue sky against the purple Ochil Hills. The sickly sweet pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. Mali tentatively poking his head outside the open back door, sniffing out the cold air, and deciding against walking outside today. My tartan stole and homemade knitted baby blue scarf. All my favourite TV shows back for another series. My first pumpkin delivered in my weekly veg bag.
I’m bouncing with excitement. The other day at work, a colleague greeted me at the door and remarked it was colder today, to which I replied: ‘I know! It’s great!’ (Except it’s freezing in the office, which is not great.)
Like spring after a drawn-out, dreary February, I feel rejuvenated. Summer is wonderful – especially in Scotland, where you get nearly 20 hours of light a day, brambles grow along the River Forth for peckish walkers to pick, and we get a month-long cultural festival in Edinburgh (The Fringe) – but I can’t stand it for long. It’s the heat, you see. I’m like an overdressed Victorian middle-class snob, fanning herself feverishly as she lounges underneath a parasol, complaining to everyone with ears about the heat. Autumn is a welcome breath of fresh air after a short but much-enjoyed summer.
I just feel alive. Hopeful. Chipper. (I know, me, chipper!) There’s just so much to enjoy, all things pumpkin spice being top on the list.
Pumpkin Breakfast Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle
Notes: The chocolate drizzle doesn’t look amazing in these pictures, because I’d tried making it with vegan butter, and the result was disappointing. It’s much, much better without it. Just chocolate + maple syrup makes a thick, syrupy drizzle. On another note, this loaf isn’t too sweet, and can be made with wholemeal flour. If you want to serve it for dessert, you can add a few tablespoons of raw cane sugar.
For the pumpkin loaf:
225g (1.5 cups) plain (wholemeal) flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (The Kitchn has a good recipe for it)
125ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup
75ml (1/3 cup) coconut oil, melted
250ml (1 cup) pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
2 tbsp non-dairy milk of choice
For the chocolate drizzle:
50g (1.75 oz) dark chocolate
1 tbsp maple syrup
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and grease a loaf tin.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre; place all the wet ingredients in the well, then fold them in.
3. Pour the batter into the loaf tin, smoothing out the top with a spatula. Bake for 45 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
4. Chop or break the chocolate and add it to a small saucepan, along with the maple syrup. On moderate heat, melt the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine. Set aside to cool a little, but not too long; you should ideally pour it over the loaf in the next ten minutes, while the chocolate is still runny but cool enough to set.
Keep covered with a cloth or stored in the bread tin for up to 3 days.
How does autumn make you feel?