With its vibrant colour studded with striking cranberry jewels, this simple mix-and-bake loaf is, in a way, a taste of North America. Americans have a long tradition of using pumpkin in sweet dishes: think of pumpkin pie. Cranberries are one of just three fruits native to North America. In the wild they grow on long vines in marshes and sandy bogs; cultivation began in the early 19th century. Although cranberries may be eaten fresh—they are seriously sour—most of the crop is used for juice or dried, as in this recipe. Sunflower seeds? The sunflower is yet another plant we owe to the Americas, valued for its cheerful nodding flower heads, its oil (extracted from the seeds) and the seeds themselves.
All three of these hero ingredients are packed with nutrition: the pumpkin is rich in fibre and beta-carotene; cranberries are high in antioxidants; and sunflower seeds, which include a healthy dose of vegetable protein, pack a serious nutritional punch.
Before you start, make sure you have some cooked pumpkin to hand. “Cook it any way that works for you,” says Lesley Russell “but make sure it is well drained and cold.”
Lesley adds that it’s a good choice for making ahead of time. “Wrapped it keeps well for several days and freezes perfectly.”