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, LOL. 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 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 and 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 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, LOL! There are prepared mixes for pumpkin bread, but it is incredibly easy to make from scratch, much better tasting, and healthier. 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 bread is one of my favorite hostess gifts to take to friends. Because of the pumpkin 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! Also, because it can be made up to three days ahead of time, is perfect for 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! This can also be baked into muffins that can easily be packed for lunch or a snack.
As an extra special treat, I thought it would be fun to offer you the option to glaze them with one of the three recipes included, or your own favorite. 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.
Whether you serve this hot from the oven simply sliced or drizzled with one of the glazes, I guarantee 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 ever use vegetable shortening and I never use margarine. Vegetable shortening is hydrogenated oil which is full of trans fats, and margarine uses all kinds of processed and “fake” ingredients to mimic real butter. Despite the warnings of cholesterol etc., I will always use butter. I would rather eat less and enjoy the flavor and health benefits! Most people slather on the margarine trying to get flavor … use just a little real butter and you’ll actually be getting fewer calories! The only time where vegetable shortening makes a huge 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. 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 small can (about 16 oz) pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2-2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 cup golden raisins (much moister than regular raisins!!), optional
- 1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts, optional
- Glaze, optional
- 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 flour 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. Beware that the loaves will bake up tall with a split down the center.
- Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. If the tops start to get too brown before done, lightly tent with foil. These loaves actually 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.
- 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 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