I've got pumpkins and squash on the brain lately. The first few squash made their way into my farm box this week, but not before I unknowingly spent $6 ($6!!) for an organic butternut specimen at Whole Foods. Let me repeat—butternut squash. Six dollars. What's that about the economy going to hell? Today, I had a pumpkin-shaped chocolate as my "afternoon dessert," a ritual I strongly encourage all of you to adopt. And over the weekend, I had the pleasure of driving around Sonoma at sunset and passed a bunch of pumpkin patches, filled with white and orange orbs. I would have bought some, but as everything I put on my stoop gets stolen, I just admired from afar.  Now I wish I'd bought a few sugar pumpkins so I could use fresh pumpkin puree for this handsome coffeecake. It looks like just the thing to ring in the season. Invite over a handful of friends for Sunday brunch and serve this, or bake it up on Sunday and bring it to some lucky ducks at your office Monday morning. Note: if you can't find fresh cranberries, they are available frozen at Whole Foods. And they don't cost $6 a bag.

Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Coffeecake

Fresh cranberries burst with tangy flavor, but dried cranberries are also excellent in this nut-laced quick coffee bread. The batter goes together in short order for a delicious breakfast or brunch flourish or a welcome sweet snack with coffee later in the day. If you want to freeze the cake, just cut it first; the serving pieces will heat almost instantly in a microwave.

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white or yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup pumpkin or winter squash purée, canned or homemade
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries
3 tablespoons demerara or raw sugar


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.

Spread the walnuts in a small baking pan and bake until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, sour cream, and pumpkin and beat with a large whisk or an electric beater until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the cranberries and 2/3 cup of the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining 1/3 cup nuts on top and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan to room temperature, then cut into 12 rectangles. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.

Serves 12


Courtesy of A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash, Lou Seibert Pappas, Chronicle Books (2008). Photographs by Maren Caruso.