Bananas and zucchini always take the spotlight when it comes to quick breads and muffins. Everyone dives for banana-nut muffins and savory-sweet zucchini bread, but what about that amazing underdog in orange? Pumpkin, I believe, is here to save the day.
I fell in love with pumpkin baked goods about 10 years ago when I was working for Swiss pastry chef Jean Paul at his namesake bakery, Jean Paul’s Pleasures, in Cincinnati. Every year about this time, Jean Paul would begin making the most incredible cookies I’d ever tasted and, of course, pumpkin was their main ingredient.
I’m not sure how those little suckers stayed in cookie form, because they were by far the moistest cookies I had (and still have) ever eaten. In between customers I would sneak into the case for just one more of those perfect pumpkin cookies, and Jean Paul, who always managed to catch me, would just shake his head, laugh his big-bellied Swiss laugh, and say, “Mavis, you can’t eat all of the cookies! Come and help me [insert random task here].”
I would mosey off to do whatever task he asked me to do—clean the cases, slice the bread, organize the homemade ice cream, take catering orders—but I always ended up back at that cookie case, sneaking glances at those pumpkin cookies like they were my long-time high school crush.
Sadly, I have yet to reproduce those beautiful pumpkin cookies. Instead, at this time of year, I bake up the closest thing to those cookies I can find: pumpkin bread. It’s incredibly moist and studded with walnuts, and each bite packs a pumpkin-y punch that’s laced with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and mace. If Butternut Squash and Apple Soup is fall in a bowl, then Pumpkin Bread is autumn in loaf form. I think I’ll have another bite.
You can use three 7” x 3” pans instead of one 7” x 3” and one 9” x 5”. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the bread will keep on the counter for about five days, but I’m sure it won’t last that long. Pumpkin pie spice is available in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. Click here to download a copy of this recipe.
3¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. white sugar
1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 c. vegetable oil
2/3 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ c. chopped walnuts
Prepare pans. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour three 7-in. x 3-in. loaf pans, or one 7 x 3 loaf pan and one 9 x 5-in. loaf pan.
Combine dry ingredients. Combine flour, sugar, spices, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Add wet ingredients. Add pumpkin, oil, water, eggs, vanilla and nuts to the dry ingredients. Stir together until well combined. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool for an hour in the pan on a wire rack. Turn loaves out, finish cooling and serve.