I’m having a bake-off against myself, in my own kitchen. I’ve taken many approaches to pumpkin bread over the years and I’m moving in on a couple, which solve different needs. In one instance, I want volume, speed, low cost. Sixteen light mini-loaves — which could be 32 muffins — to feed a crowd. For another, half that volume, but deep, rich, capable of absorbing dried fruit and nuts. I also want alternatives that use reliable canned pumpkin (one of the very few canned items that I use) and roasted fresh pumpkin (like the sweetie that I accidentally grew this summer from the sprouted seeds of an organic cheese pumpkin left too long on the counter).
Here’s the first one, made to serve a crowd. My oldest recipe for pumpkin bread, provided by a graduate school colleague who prided himself in feeding masses, contained too much vegetable oil. It was greasy. Yuck. I subsequently found that I could use water instead of some of the oil, which produced lighter results. That’s how this particular recipe evolved. More to come.
3½ c flour (all-purpose, or 3+ c unbleached)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best)
1 14 ½-15 oz can of pumpkin, preferably organic
3 c white sugar
1 c canola or vegetable oil
½ c water
4 large eggs
1 c chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two mini-loaf pans, each with 8 compartments, or four 7 ½ x 3 ¾ inch loaf pans. Muffin tins would work too but I haven’t tried them, as would traditional 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans. All need different cooking times.
Sift together the dry ingredients (other than sugar which is added to the wet since it dissolves)
Mix together the wet ingredients and gently stir into the dry ones, being careful not to over-mix. Add the nuts.
Scoop into the pans, filling each no more than ¾ full, and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes for the mini loaves or 45 minutes for the medium loaves, or and hour plus for the largest ones. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pans and store in airtight containers when cooled. They keep well, and seem better on the second day.
Sometimes the surface gets a little gummy (local humidity?) so in the future, I might experiment with some large-grained sugar on top.