it’s the great pumpkin (bread), charlie brown

I’m crazy for pumpkin this time of year.  I’ve already had pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin chocolate chip bars, and pumpkin muffins so far this season so figured it was time to whip up some pumpkin bread, too.

This particular recipe is from good ol’ Betty Crocker’s Cookbook and calls for nuts and raisins but I thought that since chocolate generally makes everything better, why not try adding it here too?

It was an excellent thought to have.  This bread is moist and a little spicy thanks to ground cloves and the chocolate chips made it feel dessert-like but I felt less guilty eating it as dessert because I figure it can’t be too bad for you since pumpkins are technically vegetables, right?  And vegetables are good for you!  For sure.

Last week was freakishly warm for October in the northern Midwest but next week it is looking much cooler which is getting me thinking about my Thanksgiving menu already.  Look for side dish and dessert ideas for Thanksgiving from me in the coming weeks!

Pumpkin Bread (adapted slightly from “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook”)

  • 1 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Mix-ins: Betty Crocker suggests ½ cup coarsely chopped nuts and ½ cup raisins, but I used 1 cup chocolate chips.  Take your pick.

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9 x 5 x 3 inches with shortening.

Mix pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in large bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and raisins or chocolate chips.  Stir in nuts and raisins or chocolate chips.  Divide batter evenly between pans.

Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack.

Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack.  Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing.  Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

My Aunt Sarah’s banana bread

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I would bake a recipe of a favorite mother in my life– in this case, my Aunt Sarah’s banana bread.  In hindsight perhaps I should have made one of my own mother’s recipes but I had two ripe bananas in my freezer just begging to be baked into bread so that was the deciding factor.  I know my mom will understand.

I like to have bananas with breakfast but I sometimes buy too many and can’t eat them all before they go bad.  Fortunately they freeze very well so are easy to tuck away until you are ready to add them to smoothies or baked goods so they don’t have to go to waste.  I hate wasting food.

My aunt’s recipe calls for shortening but I only had about a tablespoon left thanks to a certain houseguest who has a habit of leaving small amounts of things behind after cooking and baking with them, but never fear– I always seem to have plenty of butter on hand so substituted that instead.  And it came out just fine.

The flowers on the table are in honor of you Mom…

An hour or so in a 250 degree oven and you get this:

The note my aunt included with the recipe when she emailed it to me years ago said that the best way to enjoy the bread is with butter while it is still warm.  My aunt is a very smart lady.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my favorite mother’s out there!

Aunt Sarah’s Banana Bread

  • ½ cup shortening or butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.  Butter and lightly flour bread pan (I suggest using glass pans as the bread cooks more evenly in glass) and set aside.

Beat shortening and sugar with mixer and then add eggs and beat well.  Add mashed bananas and beat until combined.

To this mixture add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour.  Stir until well blended.

Put mixture into prepared bread pan and bake for about an hour or just until the top springs back.  (Note: I find that somewhere between an hour and ten minutes and an hour and twenty minutes is about right.  I have both under- and over-baked this bread before as there is a fine line between the two.  It’s best to keep an eye on the bread after an hour of baking and put back in oven for five-minute intervals as needed to finish baking.)

Let bread cool on rack for ten minutes.  Use knife to gently loosen sides of bread from pan and invert over cooling rack to finish cooling.  While the bread is still slightly warm put in plastic bag or wrap with foil or plastic wrap as the heat will help soften and sweeten the bread.