When I was about 17, I had a girlfriend who was crafty/domestic in really quirky ways. She didn't bake, but she made centerpieces out of silk butterflies. She never served cookies at Christmas, but handed out homemade jelly, sealed with paraffin.
One year, for Halloween, we decided that we simply should not throw out our jack o' lanterns after the evening's festivities. Instead, she showed up at my house at 9:30, when it was time to blow the candles out and call it a night. We sliced, diced, steamed, baked, peeled and mashed those jack o' lanterns into about 30 cups of pumpkin puree. We split up the spoils around 2 am, when we finished, put them in our freezers, and continued on our merry Holiday Season Way.
When it came time for Christmas baking, I knew just what to make - Pumpkin Bread! We had a fabulous party, every year, with all of our singing-type friends and would go around my neighborhood, carolling at every door. This year, I decided to give them something more than just a song. Pumpkin Bread for everyone.
Unfortunately, I didn't count before I started baking. I baked and I baked and I baked. All day long, I baked mini loaves, working in an assembly line fashion. At the end of the day, I had over 90 loaves of pumpkin bread...and not nearly that many neighbors. We dragged the loaves around in a red wagon, handing them out to everyone within 5 blocks of my parents' house. The remainder went to a church party that weekend, where we were barely able to hand out the last 20 loaves.
I've only ever used one recipe, and I just don't think I could switch now! Last night, as BBJ and I were preparing and freezing some of the pumpkin left over from Halloween, I knew it was time to make my Pumpkin Bread!
Note - when using pumpkin from a large jack-0-lantern type pumpkin, it is important to drain it before using it. Otherwise, your dough will be much too water-y. I sliced, seeded and peeled my pumpkins, then steamed them. When the pumpkin was nice and soft, I pureed them with an immersion blender and piled the whole mess into a "draining contraption" of my own design - a large bowl fitted with a tea-towel lined colander. I left the pumpkin there for at least 8 hours, to let the water drain away, and then packed it into sandwich-size zip top bags and put those in the freezer.
Aunt LoLo's Pumpkin Bread
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
Makes 1 large loaf or 3 small loaves or 12 muffins and one small loaf.
(I used to quadruple the recipe and bake in small, disposable loaf pans. I loved the pretty, fluted edges.)
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together:
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Add 1/3 cup powdered milk. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together until light and fluffy:
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
Add 2 cups pureed pumpkin, mix to combine.
Prepare 1 cup of water. Set aside.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three installments, alternating with the water. (1/3 dry mixture, 1/3 water, 1/3 dry mixture, 1/3 water, etc.)
Bake in a greased pan, of your choice, until the bread shrinks away from the sides of your pan and a toothpick comes out no more than crumby. The bread should be moist, but not doughy.
A large loaf pan will bake for about an hour. Small loaf pans will bake for about 45 minutes. Muffins bake for about 35 minutes. Check often as the timer nears "O".
This is delicious spread with a little butter for breakfast, or plain, straight off the counter, for afternoon tea!