What your bread was missing: ale
Pumpkin bread is one of those delicious baked goods that teeters on the border between bread and cake. It’s moist, sweet, warmly spiced and buttery. If you served it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, you’d have dessert – but most people see it as breakfast or snack fodder (smeared with cream cheese, if you’re smart).
I’ve always liked pumpkin bread, but I didn’t think there was much else to be said about it. Then a vegan colleague brought in an excellent egg- and dairy-free loaf and revealed it contained both pumpkin and pumpkin ale, and my mind was blown.
Pumpkin-beer bread makes perfect sense. First of all, beer is an excellent liquid ingredient for baking. Beer bread – which, at its simplest, contains flour, baking powder, salt, oil, and a 12-ounce bottle of your favorite brew – has a fabulously yeasty flavor and moist texture, but is much simpler to make than actual yeast bread. And its deep, savory yeastiness is exactly what’s missing from pumpkin bread. Without beer, the dominant flavor of pumpkin bread is sweetness. With beer, there’s tartness and complexity mixed in. Pumpkin bread made with beer lives up to the name bread, and deliciously so.
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