Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Here’s a great pumpkin recipe to try. It’s become a tradition for me to make this for my father-in-law’s birthday, which happens to fall around Thanksgiving (near the beginning of October for us Canadians). The original recipe from my Aunt Carol made two loaves; I’ve adapted it to make only one loaf and changed the amounts of spices slightly. It’s good with or without raisins and nuts. I’ve even substituted dried cranberries for the walnuts, which adds some nice colour and moisture.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Recipe

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts OR dried cranberries, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, water, and oil. Add to dry ingredients, stirring only to moisten. Fold in nuts or cranberries and raisins, if desired.

Bake in a greased loaf pan for 45-55 minutes at 350 F, until a piece of uncooked spaghetti inserted in the centre comes out clean.

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Cooking pumpkins

I once worked on a farm that grew pumpkins (among other things). Part of my job involved giving tours to groups of schoolchildren and teaching them all about how pumpkins grow. Another part of my job involved baking spiced pumpkin cookies to serve to these eager young visitors. The main ingredient, of course, came straight from our own pumpkin patch. That autumn at the farm is when I learned how to take a real, live pumpkin and turn it into something other than a jack-o-lantern. I’ve never bought a can of pumpkin puree since.

How to cook a pumpkin:

1. Choose a small pie pumpkin (they have the nicest flavour for baking).

2. Break off the stem and wash the pumpkin.

3. Cut pumpkin in quarters.

4. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds. (Roast them for a snack later!)

5. Put pumpkin pieces, with skin on, in a large pot and fill it about half to two-thirds full of water.

6. Lightly salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.

7. Reduce heat to medium-high and maintain a steady boil until pumpkin is soft when pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes).

8. Remove from heat and drain.

9. When pumpkin is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the flesh away from the skin. Discard skin.

10. Mash pumpkin, put in bags, and freeze. To use frozen pumpkin in recipes, thaw and drain of excess liquid.

*OR*

Use immediately in your favourite recipes! Depending on the size, one pie pumpkin will give you about 2 1/2 to 3 cups.