It’s Baking Time: Pumpkin Bread
Although the leaves have yet to turn and Halloween still seems far away, our calendars tell us that autumn has officially arrived. Fall holds a special place in the heart of every true New Englander and brings with it an assortment of bucolic traditions that date back to ages past. A change in season once meant a change in lifestyle—the arrival of chilly weather drove people indoors, and families gathered around candlelit tabletops to feast on dishes of cool-weather crops. Fall was a time to settle back into the home. As flora withered and darkness fell earlier each evening, Mother Nature herself seemed to slip into hibernation as the season progressed.
Thanks to luxuries like lighting, heated cars, and imported produce, modern folk feel more or less immune to seasonal changes. While the rest of the animal kingdom becomes plump and lethargic in preparation for winter dormancy, we humans fight past our urges to bundle up and snuggle down by maintaining our busy schedules and keeping our levels of productivity—and sleep debt—undiminished. Yet our cravings for traditional fall foods cannot be subdued—fruit compote, butternut squash, and pumpkin pie arouse our appetites like nothing else at this time of year. What better way to satisfy our deep-rooted attachment to seasonal rhythms than to indulge in a quintessential autumn dish?
Pumpkin bread is the perfect option. A loaf fresh out of the oven will fill your otherwise stale dorm kitchen with the distinctive fall aroma of spiced pumpkin. Enjoy a hot slice—toasted or buttered, if you prefer—as a late-night snack. If your leftovers become stale, they can be used to make pumpkin bread pudding (look a recipe up online). The recipe below is quite simple, requires only a few special ingredients, and is adapted from an Epicurious website recipe. Because I’m a poor college student and can’t afford to shell out 10 bucks for an ounce of ground cloves, I substituted two heaping teaspoons of pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. It came out just fine.
(adapted from Epicurious)
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 scant cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree (100 percent pumpkin)
1/3 cup of water
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a small loaf pan.
2. Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in a small bowl and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, vigorously beat the butter, sugar, honey, and oil until smooth, about one minute.
4. Add the pumpkin puree and stir. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until thoroughly mixed. While stirring, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Add the water and stir until just combined.
5. Pour the batter into the buttered loaf pan and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out more or less clean, about 55 to 75 minutes.
6. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.