Every fall since I can remember, loaves of homemade bread came out of the oven multiple times per week. The harvest of our big bountiful garden gave my mother a lot of creative leeway in her baking, and she concocted breads from cinnamon-walnut-pear to zucchini-chocolate-hazelnut.
My favorite, though, has always been the pumpkin bread, which as she slid out of the pan, filled the whole house with the fragrance of sugar pumpkins straight out of the front yard. I’ve had a lot of pumpkin bread in my short twenty years, but none compare to her recipe, borrowed and adapted from a friend out in the mid-west, where she grew up.
Since moving away to school, I’ve received a foil-wrapped brick of this wondrous fall staple in the mail every October. This year, though, I’ve decided to share the experience with my roommates by baking loaves upon loaves. Turns out it’s not easy finding time to bake on a student’s schedule, but a few precious batches did find their way into the bellies of my friends (and into my own, of course).
7 oz pumpkin (pureed or canned)
1/3 c. oil
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. unbleached white flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
I made some modifications to this recipe as well. She used a beautiful organic homegrown sugar pumpkin, and I used a dollar-fifty can from Winco. I also did some fraction work (not easy for a math hater) and found that I could use pumpkin pie spice instead of buying separate (expensive) spices. She also uses whole wheat flour, but “whole wheat” is just a marketing term; turns out flour companies mill everything down to white flour and then add in some brown. It’s not worth buying less tasty wheat flour, so I don’t! Bob’s Red Mill is an Oregon company that makes unbleached white flour I trust.
Here are the original spice proportions:
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Start by greasing and flouring a loaf pan. Then combine the wet ingredients with the sugar. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add dry into wet and stir until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes. I have a metal pan and a finicky oven, so mine took fifty. Stick a toothpick or knife into the center—it’s ready when it comes out mostly clean. Be very careful not to overbake or it will be dry.
Hooray! Let the autumn festival of deliciousness begin.