Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is something I like to start baking a few weeks leading into the holidays.  It's wonderful to give as gifts to loved ones, but it's also great to have on hand because it is so tasty.  Don't think, however, that I limit myself to baking this delicious bread only around this time of the year.  I've been known to whip up a batch of these loaves well into March if the mood strikes me.  Although the original recipe I use is a classic, I've changed bits here and there over the years and I think that this final version is my favorite.  The recipe makes 4 large 9x5x3" loaves, but can be cut in half if you wish to make only 2.  Let me show you how I make them.


Large bowls from my yellowware collection.


The Ingredients:
  • 3 sticks room temperature unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 8 large room temperature eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups orange juice (cranberry, apple or pomegranate can be used)
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree (not the spiced variety)
  • 6 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon  grated nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups raisins or currants
  • 2 cups toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped


  
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and toast your walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet for about 10 minutes.  Let them cool.  Take 1 tablespoon of your measured flour and toss it into your raisins.  Doing this will help suspend them in the batter while the breads bake. 


Cream your butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle/spade attachment for a good 4 minutes.  Stop and scrape your bowl at least once during this process.  This is what your want your
mixture to look like before proceeding.


Add your eggs one at a time and beat well.  Your mixer bowl should  be scraped once or twice during this stage of mixing.  After all your eggs have been incorporated, the mixture should be thick and smooth.


Now it's time to add your pumpkin puree and the juice.  Beat this until combined.  Don't be alarmed if your mixture looks grainy.  This is normal.  Stop your machine, detach your bowl and scrape the paddle of all that delicious batter.

In a large bowl, add your dry ingredients.  You'll notice that I sift my spices along with my leaveners through a sieve in order to remove any lumps.  This is crucial.  After you've done this, simply whisk everything to combine.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Combine these mixtures well with a large spatula. 
Add your raisins and nuts just before you've finished mixing your dry and wet ingredients.  This will prevent you from over mixing.  Can you see the raisins covered in flour?

The 9x5x3" loaf pans are buttered well and lined with loaf liners.  If you're not going to use the liners, simply dust the buttered pan with flour and tap out the excess.


Scrape all of your batter and divide it evenly.  To make that attractive crack down the middle of the loaf, I use a paring knife and make a slash lengthwise.  Bake in your preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Don't over bake.



The final product.


Make a batch of this scrumptious bread for your family & friends during the holidays.  I absolutely love baking many batches of this pumpkin bread because it keeps so well & seems to improve in flavor day after day.  You can, of course, roast your own pumpkins and puree the flesh if you don't want to use the canned variety.  I've always gotten good results with sugar pumpkins.  One thing you can be sure of is that there won't be a crumb left after you bake my pumpkin bread.  Cheers!  

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