It’s been a season of creativity. Writing a lot, not all for the blog. Teaching yoga frequently. I feel myself settling into life long routines. Yoga, meditation, writing. I feel the muse sinking back into my life. It’s a wonderful and sometimes terrifying feeling. But mostly the writing, the creating is trance-like and totally blissful. I feel myself like a conduit for something bigger than myself. I find myself drawing on the depths to create something truthful and real and beautiful and passionate and straight from the gut.
Sometimes that means poems. Sometimes that means gluten free pumpkin bread.
These two paths — writing and recipe development — seem to exist in my life like rivers that ebb and flow right alongside one another. Neither detracts from the other. When one river is overflowing with inspiration, the other also overflows. They sometimes flow right into one another. I end up writing poems with food metaphors (“the moon like a lemon peel curled in the sky”). I end up creating recipes that feel like poems, the flavors balancing together eloquently. There’s no fight between the different creative loves of my life. They co-exist happily.
This is something I’ve often noticed in happy creatives. They play in many different creative mediums. A painter is also a poet. A filmmaker is also a guitarist. A stonemason is also a toymaker.
So I sit at the top of my yoga mat in the morning, before delving into the postural practice. Reading A Book of Hours and sipping black coffee. Breathing deeply. And out of a moment of reverie a trickle of words like a magic glimmering thread makes its way into my brain. I keep a kraft brown, unlined journal in a basket underneath of my sofa for occasions such as this. Also in that basket: cheap ball point pens, yoga books, all manner of laptop accessories, and camera chargers. I pull out a journal and blue plastic pen to write.
The words spread over the page, half-dreamed. I am aware of what I’m writing. But I’m also watching as the ink spreads over the page, detached and curious. It isn’t always like this. But at times like these, cultivated moments of stillness, I more clearly hear the whisperings of inspirations waiting to be made real.
I then find myself sinking simply into meditation. I sit in an easy, comfortable pose. Close my eyes. Watch my breath. Notice stimulus around me. Notice sensations in the body. Watch thoughts float by, sometimes getting caught up in an image or story. But then I come back to the breath. In and out. Feeling the stillness underlying it all.
(If you’re curious about meditation check out this talk with Sam Harris — a neuroscientist and long time practitioner of Vipassana meditation.)
After meditating and flowing through my ashtanga vinyasa practice, I head into the kitchen to eat. It’s 8AM. It’s raining and the world outside is grey, wet, cold. I put the kettle on for some tea. I think to myself pumpkin bread would be excellent about now. And whirr into the dance of trial and error that is alternative baking.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread
This pumpkin bread is moist, sweet and delicious. It’s almost like a thick coffee cake, really. It’s spiced lightly with cinnamon and vanilla. The cacao nibs provide a chocolate aroma kin to brownies. Plus they add crunch and a pleasant bitterness to play against the sweetness of the pumpkin bread itself.
The bread rises just a bit in the oven, then relaxes back into itself when it cools. I’ve used coconut flour in this bread, along with a handful of other wholesome flours. Coconut flour is a tricky mistress. It has to be balanced with tons of moisture and fats to keep it from drying out recipes. Thus the addition of full fat coconut milk, egg, and coconut oil.
The vegan version of this gluten free pumpkin bread includes a chia egg substitute plus two more tablespoons of coconut milk to improve the moisture of the resulting bread. Trust me, you want that extra moisture.
I really like my gluten free pumpkin bread warm, straight from the tin alongside hot cocoa or milky chai. I highly recommend trying a slice slathered in pumpkin butter too! It’s a great, wholesome treat for any time of the day.
- ¼ cup (40g) sorghum flour
- ¼ cup (40g) brown rice flour
- ¼ cup (40g) arrowroot
- ¼ cup (30g) almond meal (if you're nut-free replace with sunflower seed meal)
- ½ cup (60g) coconut flour
- ½ cup (70g) coconut sugar + 1 tablespoon more to sprinkle over top
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- pinch fine sea salt
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree*
- ¾ cup full fat coconut milk (shake the can first so the milk is smooth and even)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg* (see notes for vegan option)
- ⅛ cup cacao nibs, to top (plus up to ¼ cup more if you would like to fold it into the batter as well)
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease the inside of a loaf pan with coconut oil. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sorghum flour, brown rice flour, arrowroot, almond meal, coconut flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and fine sea salt. Then add the wet ingredients: pumpkin puree, coconut milk, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, and egg. Stir everything together until the dry mix is totally saturated and even. If adding cacao nibs to the batter directly (totally optional), fold in ⅛-1/4 cup of nibs. The mix might look thicker than your average pumpkin bread batter due to the addition of coconut flour. But don't worry! It will bake up just fine.
- Spread the batter out in your greased loaf pan, smoothing over the top with a spoon or rubber spatula. Make sure the batter is spread to every edge of the pan evenly. Top with cacao nibs and a sprinkle of coconut sugar. Bake on the center rack for 40-45 minutes, until a clean sharp knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan and serving.
**vegan option: replace 1 egg with 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water + 2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk. Stir these ingredients together and set aside for 10 minutes so that the chia thickens and plumps up. Add this to the mix as you would the egg.
Keeps well wrapped in cellophane and refrigerated. You might also choose to freeze your pumpkin bread to store it if you aren't going to eat it immediately.