If you love pumpkin, you’ll adore these loaves–and muffins! For the most tender results in your quick bread recipes, be sure to use bleached all-purpose flour.
Per each batch (of loaves or muffins) you’ll need: 3 1/2 cups bleached flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon all spice and a pinch of cloves. Combine these ingredients well, using a whisk, then follow the previous instructions.
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Spray the tops of a nonstick 12-muffin tin and a 6 cup tin with vegetable spray and line the cups with paper liners. If making loaves, brush two 8 x 4-inch nonstick loaf pans with vegetable spray. For muffins, preheat the oven to 400oF or for loaves, preheat to 375ºF. Both are baked with the rack on the center shelf.
(If baking loaves, they can sit side by side in one oven but, if making muffins, and if not working with a double oven, each tin will need to bake successively. Regardless, the oven rack should be in the center position.) After plumping the currants, drain them and set them aside.
Sauté the correct amount of pumpkin seeds in the butter, stirring constantly, until very fragrant and deeply toasted, about 5 minutes. Drain the seeds on doubled paper towels and, if desired, sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt. Allow them to cool. Chop the toasted seeds into small but irregular pieces and, if making loaves, take two tablespoons of the seeds and place them into a plastic bag with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and, if desired, add a few shakes of cinnamon and a bit of ground nutmeg. Roll over the sugar-nut mixture to crush the nuts and to combine with the sugar and spices. (If making muffins mix ½ cup of the seeds with ½ cup of sugar, some cinnamon and nutmeg, then roll over them to crush.)
Whisk together the dry mix and the listed spices in a 5-quart mixing bowl and set aside. Using a whisk, combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, oil, eggs, white and brown sugars, maple syrup and the vanilla and maple extract. When well mixed, add the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and, using either a batter whisk or a wide blending fork, combine the mixture gently but thoroughly (check for dry pockets, using a rubber spatula). Using a large, sturdy rubber spatula, fold in the drained currants with the remaining ½ cup of toasted pumpkin seeds.
If making loaves, divide the batter between both pans and smooth the top with an off-set spatula. If making muffins, use a medium-size ice cream scoop or a large spoon to divide the batter between the cups, filling to the top, mounding slightly (use all of the batter). Sprinkle the tops of the loaves or muffins generously with the topping.
Place the pans into the preheated oven, with 2 to 3 inches in between them, and immediately reduce the temperature to 350F. Bake the loaves for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the golden and a tester comes out clean.
Working with one tin at a time, place the 12-muffin tin into the center of a preheated 400oF and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375oF and bake for 5 minutes. Insert a tester deep into the top center of a random muffin and, if it comes out clean, remove the tin from the oven. If there are still moist crumbs clinging to the tester, reduce the temperature to 325oF and bake 5 to 7 minutes more (when done, in addition to a tester coming out clean, the tops should be golden and crisp). Remove the tin from the oven and place it on a rack. Before placing the second tin into the oven, increase the oven temperature to 400F and wait 10 minutes.
When done, remove the muffins or loaves from the oven and place their pans on a wire rack for a few minutes, then use a knife to run down the sides of the loaf pans to help free them. For muffins, either carefully lift each one out of the tin and place on the rack or, if any muffins tops have merged during baking, use a knife to cut in between them. To unmold the loaves, place a piece of wax paper on top of each loaf and invert it onto another wire rack. Invert once more, so the loaf is right side up. Discard the paper.
Wrap each loaf or each muffin in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Both will stay perfectly moist for several days and can be frozen, well wrapped, for 2 months.