A wonderful friend of mine, Laury, has been begging for this recipe for a long time. I’ve been joking with her that I would only post it if I received an incentive,. Well Laury, today is your lucky day! Here is the pumpkin bread recipe that wins a blue ribbon every time I enter it in contests.
I found the original recipe years ago in the “Fanny Farmer Baking Book” by Marion Cunningham, a delightful woman who became known across the country when she worked as James Beard’s assistant for his cooking classes. She is an unassuming, down to earth woman who believes that less is more. Her recipes are deceptively simple, but the trick is to use the highest quality ingredients you can and let their beauty shine.
Pumpkin puree is naturally fat free, low in sodium and a great source of Vitamins A and C. Because pumpkin is a vegetable, one slice of this bread can count toward the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. This is a great way to sneak something healthy into your child’s meals. I just love being devious, don’t you? LOL!
You could buy a prepared mix for pumpkin bread, but it is so easy to make from scratch and much better tasting and healthier, so I urge you to make your own. This bread is one of my favorite hostess gifts to take to friends. It is a great option for the holidays, and because it is not as sweet as all the other treats people will be receiving, will be enthusiastically welcomed!
If you are new to baking, this is a great recipe to start with. It is very forgiving and a wonderful way to build your baking confidence. Smelling these loaves baking, seeing them rising in the oven and coming out golden brown, you will convince even the most ardent naysayers that you are a baker!
This is one of those foods that tastes better on the day after it is baked. It can be made up to three days ahead of time, making it perfect for those times when you have overnight or weekend guests. Served alongside some eggs and fresh fruit, you’ll have a nutritious breakfast that is quick and easy to get on the table when your hungry family is clamoring for food!
Once the loaves are cooled you can slice them and wrap each piece individually with plastic wrap. Stack these in the refrigerator and your family can grab one for a healthy snack anytime of the day or night! If you like muffins, you can also bake this batter in muffin tins and stack them in baskets for gifts.
The Artist and I love this pumpkin bread plain, but as an extra special treat, I thought it would be fun to offer you the option to glaze it with one of three recipes. One is made with cream cheese so it will definitely remind you of carrot cake. The other two are buttermilk glazes. All of these are a bit less sweet than traditional frosting and go particularly well with the spicy flavors in the pumpkin bread.
Whether you serve this sliced hot from the oven or cooled and drizzled with one of the glazes, I hope that it will become one of your favorite recipes, splattered and stained from years of use. I am happy to share one of my family’s favorite traditions – maybe it will be the beginning of a new one for your family too!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
I very rarely use vegetable shortening and I never use margarine. Vegetable shortening has been chemically altered for a longer shelf life and is full of trans fats. Margarine uses all kinds of processed and “fake” ingredients to mimic butter. Most people slather on the margarine trying to get flavor … use a little butter instead, you’ll be more satisfied and you’ll actually be getting fewer calories. I would rather eat less and enjoy the flavor and eat a natural product.
Butter is especially important in baking. The only time where vegetable shortening makes a big difference is in pie dough. It increases the flakiness but has no flavor. So I either use a 50/50 mix of shortening and butter, or I sacrifice a bit of the flakiness and make an all butter crust. I stock up and keep the boxes in the freezer, bringing them down as I need them. Butter is King!
- 3-1/3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 2/3 cup cool to cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 (16 oz) can pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2-2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 cup golden raisins (much softer than regular raisins), optional
- 1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts, optional
- Glaze, optional (recipes follow below)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9x5x3-inch (or similar size) loaf pans. Set aside.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend thoroughly.
- In another large bowl, combine butter, pumpkin, eggs, sugar, milk, raisins, and nuts. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir with a spoon or on the low setting of an electric mixer just until batter is blended. The batter should show no lumps of flour, but there will be small amounts of butter that will disappear in baking. Do not over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans, smoothing the tops. If desired, arrange pecan halves on the top. The loaves will rise into a beautiful dome with a split down the center like the San Andreas fault.
- Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If the tops start to get too brown before done, lightly tent with foil. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. The flavor and texture of these loaves improve with time so make them a day ahead.
- When completely cool, you can glaze or wrap in plastic. If you choose to glaze the loaves, make sure the glaze is completely hardened before wrapping. Store in the refrigerator. These also freeze well. Wrap tightly in plastic and then in foil before freezing.
- Yield: 2 (9x5x3-inch) loaves
- 3 oz softened cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp softened butter
- 2 tbsp milk, or as needed
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you like your glaze
- 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add more milk if needed to get fairly thin drizzling consistency.
- Pour over cooled bread or cake. Pass additional glaze at the table.
- Yield: about 1/2 cup glaze
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tbsp buttermilk
- 1 tsp dark rum
- Whisk the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. If the glaze is still too thick, add a little more buttermilk or rum. If it is too thin add some more powdered sugar.
- Yield: about 1/3 cup
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 stick unsalted butter, diced
- 1 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Place sugar, buttermilk, butter, corn syrup, and baking soda in a large saucepan with a light-colored interior. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until glaze is deep amber, whisking often. Glaze will thin out when almost done. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Pour over bread or cake.
- Yield: about 3/4 cup