Pumpkin Bread

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Last week I made a nice big batch of pumpkin bread to take to church.  And when it was done, and perfuming the house gloriously, we tasted it.  And then our friends tasted it.  And we had some for dessert that night.  And we had more for breakfast the next morning.  And then… I made another batch, because it was Sunday morning and I had about 3 slices left of the first batch.

This pumpkin bread is good stuff, you guys.  It’s moist, and deeply pumpkin-y, with just the right amount of spice.  It makes the whole house smell gloriously of October, which, to my mind, is a good thing no matter what time of year it is.

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I’ve fiddled around with the spice mixture for this recipe a lot.  Most pumpkin bread recipes fail to wow me in the spice department, and this one was no exception.  The original recipe from Simply Recipes tasted too bland, too one-dimensional.  There were some good flavors in there, but the proportions were wrong, and something was missing.  After some testing, I upped the cinnamon, reduced the nutmeg, and added some cloves.  This made it almost right, and I made it this way for years, but was never *quite* satisfied with it.  Finally, a few months back, after finding and perfecting a recipe for the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted, I figured it out.  Ginger.  It needed ginger.  There’s just a tiny bit (1/2 teaspoon) of ginger in the final recipe, but that little bit really makes it sing.

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Aside from obsessive spice-fiddling, I made a few other changes to the original recipe.  I reduced the sugar slightly, to make it more of a sweet bread and less of an outright cake.  I also swapped the water for more puréed pumpkin (I don’t know why you would use plain water to add moisture when you could be adding more rich, pumpkin-y goodness).  And I doubled the recipe, because one loaf of pumpkin bread is never enough in this house.

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The method for making this pumpkin bread is dead easy.  The first 10 ingredients (eggs through salt) are dumped in a bowl and whisked thoroughly to combine.  Flour and baking soda are added, and mixed gently until just combined.  At this point, you could gently stir in add-ins like raisins and nuts, although we generally prefer our pumpkin bread uninterrupted.  The batter is then poured into a greased bundt pan (look at this gorgeous cast aluminum beauty!  I’m absolutely loving it!) or two greased bread loaf pans.  It’s baked for about an hour at 350°, while you wait impatiently , dreaming of blue skies and crisp fall leaves.

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Oh, by the way, try this with pumpkins you’ve processed and frozen yourself, as we do here.  (Bonus points if you grew the pumpkins yourself!)  Home-processed pumpkin brings both a freshness and a depth of flavor that just isn’t there in the canned varieties.  Be careful, though.  You may never go back!

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I love the versatility of this recipe.  You can dial up the sugar by 1/2 cup, use all white flour, cover it with cream cheese frosting, and call it a cake.  You can use half and half white and whole wheat flour and call it breakfast.  You can switch up the spice mix and add raisins for a treat that takes me back to college and the favorite creation of a dear friend.  You can serve it the next day, toasted and buttered with a hot cup of tea (my personal favorite).  Or – inevitably – you can cut a big steaming hunk off the loaf right after it comes out of the oven, and eat it just like that.

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Pumpkin Bread

Yields:  two standard-sized loaves or one 12-cup bundt cake

Original recipe from Simply Recipes.  Their recipe has since been updated.  I used the old version, but find it interesting that their updates include adding ginger, just as I ended up doing.

For the flour, you can use 100% all-purpose flour, 100% whole wheat flour, or equal parts of both (what I usually do).  Both the all-white and the half-and-half versions freeze well – wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil – the 100% whole wheat version tastes great freshly made but becomes a crumbly mess if frozen.  I’ve observed this to be generally true for all the sweet breads I make.

4 eggs
1 ½ C sugar
1 C olive oil
3 C pumpkin puree
½ t nutmeg
2 t cinnamon
1 t allspice
1 t cloves
½ t powdered ginger
1 t salt
3 C (390 g) flour
2 t baking soda
1 ½ C raisins (optional, I usually omit)
1 C chopped walnuts (optional, I omit)

Combine eggs through salt in a large bowl, and whisk thoroughly to mix.  Add flour and baking soda, whisk gently to combine.  Gently stir in nuts and/or raisins, if using.  Pour batter into two buttered or greased loaf pans (or one greased 12-cup bundt pan), bake at 350° for 60-65 min.  Let cool for 10 minutes, then un-mold onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.  Or hack off large hunks like the heathens you are and stand around licking your fingers and burning your tongues on the steaming pumpkin-y goodness.

 

Variations:

  • For a cake-like version, use 100% all-purpose flour, increase sugar by ½ C, and frost with cream cheese frosting.
  • For a totally different (but also delicious) take on pumpkin bread, substitute 1 T cinnamon and 2 t cloves for the spice mixture listed, and mix in 1 ½ C raisins before pouring batter into pans.

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