Contrary to what you might think from the outrageously yellow color, there is none, nada, zero food coloring of any sort in this recipe. Unless you count the naturally occurring Vitamin A in the pumpkin (in the form of carotenoids which are well, orange in color), and then you are obviously right. There is loads of that in this bread. Not that it makes this dessert a health food of any possible description (unless you are suffering from a specific Vitamin A deficiency, and then you can totally eat this as your medication!), but in the age of too much color dumped into too many desserts, I felt like I should say a few words before people run away screaming. So yeah, pumpkin bread turns out that color, and it’s a great thing, because not only is it awesomely and amazingly delicious, it even matches the fall decor.
Pumpkin bread, for those of you unfamiliar with the food (I am not assuming here, I’ve had lots of people in Europe look at me funny when I mentioned it like they’ve never heard of it – which they hadn’t), is banana bread’s better, tastier, prettier and all-round awesomer classy cousin. (Unless you just love bananas and their flavor, or if it’s potassium you are after, and then stick with banana bread or just plain bananas.) It’s happily orange to the brown of banana bread, and I think we can all agree that orange is a better color than brown. …What, you disagree?! Ok, you can go sit in that there brown corner. On this blog I am all in favor of all things orange, so the statement stands.
How is it better than banana bread other than the color and Vit A vs. potassium content? Well, it also tastes better, in my totally-biased-in-favor-of-pumpkin opinion. The pumpkin adds a fresh and delicate note, almost melon-like in quality, but with a heartier finish, and the spices (I use the holy-quadrinity of Pumpkin Pie Spice here – real cinnamon (non-bitter), freshly-grated nutmeg, ginger, and cloves) combine so wonderfully well and add the heavenly fragrance that is the very epitome of fall. And not only does this keep well cooled and wrapped in plastic film, but in fact, it actually both smells and tastes even better the next day.
It also looks just the same the next day – so if you wanted a make-ahead dessert, this ticks that box as well. No, I don’t actually know if it keeps longer than a day (some sources say pumpkin helps keep it fresh for a few), because I’ve never had it survive longer than two days at my place. If it ever does, I’ll 1. wonder if I had messed up the recipe and 2. report back on the freshness.
Plus, if you really wanted to go to town with this, you could wait till it cools and make an orange or lemon glaze for it out of a bit of powdered sugar, a tablespoon or so of the juice and the grated zest of the citrus you fancy, and drizzle it over the top, leaving it to set. I’ve done this before and it’s amazing. And makes it look even more festive.
Have I convinced you that this American-food staple is not your average piece of McGarbage yet? I sure hope so. (Yes, I keep having to tell my European friends that American food is, in fact, amazing, and that no, it’s not all McCrap. I think I am succeeding, one pulled pork feast, pumpkin soup and shrimp scampi at a time…)
And if you’ve gotten this far, I will also tell you yet another awesome thing about this – it’s easy. And I mean, easier than easy. It’s easy even by my already fairly low standards. It is mixed in one bowl, glopped into greased loaf pans and baked. This is how easy it is. The entire thing takes about an hour and that includes 50 minutes or so of baking time. Do I have your attention?
If yes, here’s what you need – makes 2 average-sized loaf pans:
- 1 can of Libby’s 100% Pumpkin Puree (NOT the pie filling, yuck, no, ew!) or 425g of steamed and mashed winter squash of your choice (butternut squash works fine – weigh the squash puree after steaming and mashing, since it’ll lose water in cooking).
- 225g salted butter, melted and cooled so you don’t cook the egg with it. If using unsalted butter, add 1/4 tsp salt.
- 3.5 cups (8dl) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (5dl) sugar – I use a mix of white and medium-dark brown sugar at about 2:1 or 1:1 here
- 3 large eggs or enough egg substitute prepared according to package directions (My sig. other is allergic to egg whites. This works beautifully with Orgran’s No-Egg - turns out tender and fluffy, with a good rise. Good-bye Bob’s Red Mill egg substitute…)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 heaping tsp ground ceylon cinnamon
- 1 heaping tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp freshly-ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp real vanilla extract (entirely optional but toss it in if you have some and like it)
- 1 cup (2.5dl) golden sultanas (or other raisins but they won’t be as pretty or taste the same – nuts work well, too, but obviously the flavor will be entirely different.)
What to do:
- Preheat your oven to 175C. Set a rack in the middle.
- Butter or spray 2 loaf pans, set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the sultanas (raisins) with a whisk to distribute the baking powder and spices.
- Add the pumpkin, then the butter and vanilla extract (if using). Add the eggs. I actually pre-mix all the wet ingredients in another bowl, and you can do that if you think it’s easier. I do – but it isn’t necessary if you don’t want to get another bowl dirty.
- Stir the batter a little (I use a wooden spoon to mix this, there is zero need for even a handheld mixer), and add the raisins. Mix until just combined and no dry flour is visible. Some lumps are ok, it is important to not overmix this.
- Scrape into 2 loaf pans and level the top with a spatula.
- Place on the rack in the middle of the oven and set a timer for 40 minutes. Ovens vary – generally these bake for about 50 minutes, but I recommend checking with a toothpick starting from 40 minutes. Pumpkin bread is done when a skewer comes out clean without wet batter stuck to it.
- Cool in pans on a rack for 15 minutes, unmold and cool on a rack out of pans until entirely cool, if you can wait that long. Which you must if you plan to make the glaze and glaze them. Otherwise, up to you!
Slice, serve with coffee or tea, and enjoy – it’s like all the colors of autumn in your mouth. Well, not the brown mud color, but you know what I mean!