Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Short History Lesson & White Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

            Many years ago, Nestlé ran a television commercial that dramatized the moment the Toll House (or chocolate chip) cookie was invented. They were first created here in Massachusetts at the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman by a woman named Ruth Wakefield (or as I like to call her, Saint Ruth). In the commercial, Mrs. Wakefield adds broken pieces of a semi-sweet chocolate bar to her cookie dough with the expectation that they will melt into the dough and create chocolate cookies. Much to her surprise and delight, the chocolate chips remained in tact and the chocolate chip cookie was born.
The commercial always bothered my mother who was convinced there was more mythology than fact in Nestlé’s dramatization of this historical moment. Like Mrs. Wakefield, my mother has a degree in Home Economics from Framingham State College. A person with her background would have known that simply stirring unmelted chocolate into vanilla cookie dough would never create chocolate cookies. She felt that the invention of the chocolate chip cookie was not merely the happy accident of a distracted housewife, but a deliberate experiment made by someone who understood the art and science of baking.
So why the history lesson? Like a lot of people this week, I’ve been doing a lot of baking in preparation for Christmas and I made an accidental discovery myself. I had baked several loaves of Chocolate Chip Pumpkin bread from the King Arthur Flour Company's recipe for my kids’ teachers. It’s delicious and simple. After the first couple of loaves, I came up with the idea of using white chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet. My husband loves white chocolate and it’s I thought it would be fantastic with the pumpkin and nutmeg flavors. Much to my surprise, the white chocolate chips melted into the batter. There were no noticeable chips, just little pockets of deliciousness. The breads were more like cake and were difficult to get out of the pans but the taste was heavenly. If you try this at home, line the bottoms of your pans with parchment.

White Chocolate Pumpkin Bread


3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
One15-ounce can of pumpkin
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly  grease two 9" x 5" loaf pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and water.

3) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla, stirring to combine.

4) Mix in the chips.

5) Spoon the batter into the prepared pans.

6) Bake the bread for 60 to 80 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean; and that same tester inserted about 1/2" into the top of the loaf doesn't encounter any totally unbaked batter.

7) Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. When it's completely cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and store it overnight before serving.