Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

When late summer casts an amber glow on the blazing leaves and the air becomes crisp and chill, you can bet its time to break out the soup recipes and fish that jar of sage out of the forgotten corner of the spice cabinet.  Fall is finally here and with it the official opening of comfort food season.  And Boy Howdy is Daktari ready.

I was shopping in town one day and saw a bin of sugar pie pumpkins with the low, low sale price of $0.28/lb.  There is nothing like a seasonal favorite to make me believe I have tons of time to cook and do all sorts of things that normal people who aren't writing their dissertations do.  That happy orange gourd caused my mind to wander.  Fresh pumpkin in my oatmeal.  Pumpkin-whipped cream desserts.  Savory pumpkin soup. so four of them came home with me.  Total cost: a little over $2.50.

In them meantime, a friend was anticipating surgery and I volunteered to bake some treats for him and his caretakers.  So I sacrificed the pumpkins to a greater cause.  Halved and deseeded, I popped two of them in the oven (cut side down at 350F) and an hour later was rewarded with a bowl of steaming orange deliciousness.

 I took a chance on this recipe I found over on Allrecipes, and am I ever glad I did.  This is, hands down, the best quick bread recipe I've ever made.  Better than Goldie Hutchinson's zucchini bread recipe.  Better than any banana bread I've ever tried.  Better even than the chocolate zucchini bread winner of a few years ago.  I can only say one thing about this recipe.  You must try it.

It is deliciously moist.  It is almost cake like in it's airiness.  It isn't heavy.  It's perfect.  It's heavenly with apple butter.  Probably even better straight out of the oven with melted butter.  You get the picture.

Try it.  I promise you won't regret it.

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

15 oz. pureed pumpkin
4 eggs
0.5 cup vegetable oil
0.5 cup apple sauce (no sugar added, plain)
3 cups white sugar (can reduce to 2 without losing anything)
3.5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
0.5 teaspoon ground cloves
0.25 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1 cup baking raisins, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.  Oil and flour two loaf pans.  I use "baking" Pam spray--the kind with flour already in there--and add a little extra flour to coat.  Be certain to really beat the sides of the loaf pan after dusting to remove most of the excess flour.

Mix the pumpkin, eggs, oil, apple sauce and sugar until well blended.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, and spices.  Wisk to mix.  Add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until well combined.  If you want to add the nuts and raisins, do so now.  Pour batter into the two pans.

Bake at 350F for an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Mine cooked for a little over an hour.  More like 65-70 minutes, but keep an eye on yours the first time you make this.

When finished, remove from oven and let cool on the counter at least 10 minutes.  Turn out loaves onto a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.  If you can't wait that long, wait until the bread is still slightly warm and slice it for immediate eating.  Do not cut the loaves while they are still hot.  They will lose that internal heat that continues to bake the bread as it cools.

I really hope you enjoy this recipe.  It earned the Eagan seal of approval.  And that's all that matters.

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