Pumpkin Bread

Though I've never been a big fan of Fall -- my loyalties lie with Summer -- the end of my favorite season is always a bit less bitter knowing that Pumpkin Season is around the corner, or rather, that time of year where I stock up on cans of pumpkin puree, make a long pumpkin-recipe-to-do list, and go a little crazy. On this blog I have posts on pumpkin cake, pumpkin pancakespumpkin chocolate chip bars, pumpkin French toast and pumpkin pie, with pumpkin creme brulee, pumpkin scones, and pumpkin biscuits on the horizon. But here's the real issue: how is it that I've posted a recipe for fancy shmancy homemade pumpkin pie pop tarts, but never once posted a recipe for pumpkin bread, perhaps the simplest and most classic item in all the pumpkin repertoire?! What kind of blogger and pumpkin enthusiast is she?!, you must be wondering. Forgive me. Here's your long overdue recipe.

Now, I've seen lots of recipes for pumpkin bread in my day, but my very favorite comes from my mom by way of one of her oldest cookbooks -- the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 12th edition, published in 1979 -- which she received as a wedding gift 30 years ago. My mom has been making this for as long as I can remember, and indeed its page is easily the most worn and batter-specked in the whole cookbook. Going back to school in September was never as bad knowing that a loaf of pumpkin bread might be waiting for my brother, sister, and me when we got home - and when I got older, it became a treat I associated with weekend visits home from college, comforting and familiar in a whirlwind of dorms, exams, and new classes. Even now when I make this recipe in my small, slightly dated looking (think 1970s grandmother) kitchen in Rome, the aroma of it baking instantly transports me back to my parents' home in East Greenwich, RI. Indeed, Pumpkin Bread is one of those foods that has nostalgia as a main ingredient. 

So, the recipe! Like any good pumpkin bread this one has a good dose of warming spices -- four in total, I take my autumnal spices very seriously -- and a terrific trio of pumpkin, vegetable oil, and water keep the bread moist and give it a lovely consistency. The color is beautiful, the scent when it is baking is heavenly, and the actual preparation is easy as pie -- here there is no need to plug in the electric beaters, separate eggs, or wait until that stick of butter comes to room temperature. Nope, this Pumpkin Bread is just a matter of measuring ingredients and whisking them together, meaning there is little standing between you and a spicy, cozy slice of Fall, perfect for breakfast, snack, or tea on a chilly day.

A couple of notes: I like my pumpkin bread spicy, so I upped the quantities in the original recipe exactly to my liking (hence the 1/4 + 1/8 business) and added ginger. If you want the spices to be more subtle, feel free to scale them down a bit (1 teaspoon for the cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon only for the other spices, for example). If you wanted you could add chopped pecans or walnuts to the batter, or serve this with a dusting of powdered sugar to make it a little fancier. This bread tastes even better the next day and is good even the day after that, as the spices develop and the flavor becomes even stronger. Can't find canned pumpkin where you are and feeling ambitious? Learn how to make homemade pumpkin puree here. If you're in Rome, you should easily be able to find canned pumpkin at your local Castroni. 

Looking for more Fall desserts? I've got this Bittersweet Chocolate Pear Cake, this Apple Crisp with Pecan-Oatmeal Topping, this Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie, and these Pecan Pie Bars, too. If you're like me and really like things baked in loaf pans, then you should also check out this Banana Bread, this Lemon Poppyseed Cake, this Triple Orange Pound Cake, this Chocolate Loaf Cake and this Ricotta Pound Cake.

PUMPKIN BREAD

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (about 195 grams) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (about 200 grams) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup (about 80 grams) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, or about 50 grams) water
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4+ 1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, spices, oil, and water.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk everything together until just combined (be careful not to over whisk!) Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pumpkin bread comes out with a crumbs attached but no batter. 
 
Let the pumpkin bread cool completely (if you can wait, that is). Cut into slices and serve. Makes one loaf, serving about 8-10.
Recipe adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.




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