Pumpkin Bread

One of my favorite things about fall is all the yummy food – Chili and Taco Soup on cool nights, hot cocoa and apple cider to warm you up at football games or fall festivals, not-so-good-for-you carnival food, and absolutely all things pumpkin. Now, pumpkin pie isn’t my favorite, so if that’s the only thing pumpkin you’ve tried, do not let that deter you from trying this! Pumpkin bread is a great dessert, breakfast, or anytime snack. It is sweet, nutty, and has just the right amount of spice!

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I always make this several times in the fall- for co-workers, for our annual trip to the mountains, for football games, etc. There’s really no occasion that’s not better with bread – especially bread of the pumpkin variety!

You can use canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin for this recipe. If you use fresh, buying a sugar pie pumpkin will be your best bet. The pumpkins you buy for carving are bred for their size and durability against your kitchen knife (or hacksaw, whichever the case may be). They are not very sweet and usually pretty stringy. You can still use this pumpkin, just know up front that it won’t yield as sweet or flavorful of a bread. The sugar pie pumpkins, or any small, dark pumpkin variety, have a smoother, sweeter flesh that are much more suitable for baking. Even though I am trying to ditch the processed, and usually prefer things fresh, I use canned pumpkin for almost all of my baking – pure pumpkin, not the pie filling. It gives recipes a more pumpkin-y flavor in my opinion.

To make a pumpkin purée from fresh pumpkin, cut it in half and discard the stringy pulp in the middle. (You can save the seeds for roasting later – yummy!) Remove the stem and place face down on a baking sheet. Roast for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until soft and tender. Purée or mash the cooled pumpkin until smooth. A medium size sugar pie pumpkin will yield 1 – 2 cups of purée.

After you’ve prepared your pumpkin purée, either by opening a can or carving and roasting, you’re ready to start gathering the rest of your ingredients. Here’s our cast of characters:

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Start by preheating your oven to 350. Grease two loaf pans (mine are 9×5).

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In a large bowl, combine the oil, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and water. I always crack each egg into a small bowl before adding it to my mixture. A tip I learned from Mrs. Paula Dean. She says “to make sure the chicken was flying right that day.” When your done it will be kind of watery and drip easily off your wisk. Like this…

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Now all you do is dump all the remaining ingredients, expect the pecans, on top and stir. When everything is fully incorporated, add the pecans and stir just to distribute. Your batter should now be the consistency of a thick cake batter.

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Pour batter into prepared pans. If your have course sugar, you can sprinkle it over the top before baking. Place pans in preheated oven and bake 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Before….

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And after…

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This bread is actually best if you wrap it in plastic wrap after it cools and let it sit overnight. But this just doesn’t ever happen at my house! My 1 1/2 year old is usually standing the breakfast room saying “Peas! Peas!” (Please) when I open the oven door. She has learned to associate the oven with yummy things. Smart girl!

Variations: You can substitute the pecans for walnuts or pumpkin seeds. You can also either substitute or add chocolate chips or raisins. If you substitute chocolate chips or raisins for nuts, use 2 cups. If you use them with nuts, use about 1 1/2. This recipe can also be used to make muffins, if you would rather. If you want to top your bread (or muffins) with icing, mix about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar with a tablespoon or so of a milk and 1-2 tablespoons melted butter. Drizzle on top before serving.

Pumpkin Bread

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 1-1 1/2 hours

Makes: 2 loaves

Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin purée
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease two loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, pumpkin, eggs, and water.

3. To the pumpkin mixture, add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Stir to combine.

4. Add the nuts and stir to distribute evenly.

5. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let bread cool on a wire rack before serving.

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