Pumpkin Bread

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Having not been raised in the U.S, my first pumpkin cooking experience happened by way of Halloween.  My husband wanted to get into the spirit of the holiday, and brought a couple small pumpkins home from the store.  After they had been laying out for some time after Halloween had come and gone, I thought, ‘why waste?  I’ll cook them!’  He gave me a bemused look – ‘you can cook them?’  ‘Of course!’ – I said – ‘They are food!’

Google to the rescue of the pumpkin noob – cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp.  Save the seeds to dry and roast. In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil.  Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender.

Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and use a food processor to puree.

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I have seen recommendations of cooking out some of the liquid from the resultant puree, but I never do this, and find that I like how my bread turns out – very moist and tender.  It is also important to note that your bread will taste different depending on the type of pumpkin you choose.  I prefer the traditional sugar pumpkin variety for this recipe, which comes from the Joy of Cooking.  The recipe is slightly modified to the way I like to prepare it.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  I like to use canola oil, but non-stick spray works too.

Whisk together:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

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Combine in a small bowl:

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

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Beat in a large bowl until fluffy:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, softened

1 cup plus 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Beat in one at a time:

2 large eggs

Add and beat on low speed just until blended:

1 cup cooked pumpkin puree

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sites of the bowl as needed.

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Fold in:

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

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Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Enjoy!

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