It seems like it’s autumn everywhere in the country, but not here in Central Florida. The temperature is a few degrees cooler, and the humidity is dropping ever so slightly. It’s still feels like summer, yet pumpkins and gourds are for sale on just about every empty corner lot and in every other church yard. The stores are full of pumpkins, white and orange, large and small. Smaller pumpkins are great for cooking; the larger pumpkins are best for making Jack-o-lanterns.
So every Fall, I buy small white or orange pumpkins and make pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie. This year I decided that pumpkin bread was in order. Pumpkins offer a number of nutritional benefits that we shouldn’t overlook. Pumpkin is low in calories and has many natural anti-oxidants. Pumpkin seeds, which we love to season and roast, are high in dietary fiber, protein, and mono-unsaturated fatty acids plus several vitamins.
This pumpkin bread recipe is fairly simple and quick. It is true that pumpkin is a little hard to slice, but you can tackle it if you cut a small pumpkin in half, then slice the halves in quarters. Once the pumpkin is sliced, it can be roasted or steamed to make the puree. I steam the pumpkin if I’m going to use it in a pie or bread recipe, but I roast it if I plan to make a savory dish. The pumpkin only takes a few minutes to soften when it’s steamed, and it will easily separate from its skin.
I usually add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to the bread mix, but you can also add ginger (which I do sometimes), chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, orange zest, and dried fruit. A simple confectioner’s sugar glaze is also a nice touch. Old fashion pumpkin bread without all of the extras I find is the best, especially served warm.
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup water
- To make the pumpkin puree: Cut pumpkin in half with a serrated knife, and clean out seeds and stringy insides. Slice each half into quarters. Place pumpkin slices in a large pot with a steamer basket, and add about 1-inch of water to the pot. Cover, and increase heat until steam begins. Reduce heat to low, and keep pot covered. Steam for about 15-20 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft. Scoop out soft pumpkin with a spoon or scoop. Puree pumpkin with a hand blender until smooth. Cool at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 9x5" loaf pans with baking spray.
- Stir together sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Mix the pumpkin mixture with the dry, adding ½ cup water a little at a time. Pour into prepared pans.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes in preheated oven, or until toothpick insert in center comes out clean.