Ah yes, fall has arrived! I can't think of a better way to kick off my favorite "baking season" than pumpkin, somethin', anything...pumpkin. This particular recipe is known as a "quick" bread. A "quick bread" is called such because unlike a bread where yeast is used as the leavening agent, this type of bread uses either baking powder, baking soda, or as in this case, a combination of both for the leavening agent. Most are made from a batter, or a soft dough that is quickly mixed together, rather than a kneaded (yeast) dough, and it does not require a rising time before baking as yeast breads do. You just mix it up, pour it into a pan (or in some cases quickly shape it), throw it into the oven, and you're minutes (ok, in this case, an hour) away from heaven. Hence the term "quick bread".
Because most quick bread types are associated with a sweet, fruit, vegetable, and/or nut bread, like banana nut, date nut, cranberry, zucchini, apple raisin, etc., they are often referred to as "sweet bread" or "fruit bread". However, a quick bread isn't always necessarily sweet. Other types of bread that fit into this category are biscuits, corn bread, muffins, scones, skillet bread (pancakes) etc. The other major difference in a quick bread is the texture. Because you generally use an all purpose flour and very minimal manipulation, it has less gluten developed, therefore, the crumb is more moist and tender (almost cake like) but much more dense, almost "heavy", if you will.
Let me just say one more thing before starting and before you go all "Martha Stewart" on my ass...Yessssss I use canned pumpkin! (shock, gasp) Seriously, do I really want to hunt down and buy a sugar pumpkin (you can't use a regular Halloween pumpkin), clean out the gooey inners, peel it, carve it up, boil it, cool it, smash it....which is gonna take me for freakin' EVER, or do I rely on ol' "Libby" to help a sista out? Nope, as much as I love from-scratch stuff, in this case, I vote for Libby canned pumpkin puree....after all...it IS quick bread, right? Just be sure you are using "puree" and NOT pumpkin pie mix, there's a huge difference in the two. So here's the recipe, if your on bakespace, you can find it here in my kitchen.
1 (15oz) (scant 2 cups) Can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 C White sugar
1 C Brown sugar
1 C Vegetable oil
4 large Eggs slightly beaten
2/3 C Water
3 ½ C All purpose flour
2 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp Ground nutmeg
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice
½ tsp Ground cloves
Preheat your oven to 350F. You'll also need to lightly spray or grease two standard sized (9x4) loaf pans.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ground cloves. Give it a little stir with a whisk or spoon. I know what you're thinking, that's a LOT of spices. Just trust me, this is the best combination I've tried....the flavor, as well as the heavenly scent wafting from the oven just screams fall. BTW, if at all possible, use freshly grated nutmeg, because that will be well worth the trouble, I assure you.
In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer or whisk, blend sugars oil and eggs. Next, with the mixer on low, stir in the (uh-hem) canned pumpkin puree. Make sure to get it mixed well.
Next, pour half of the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and mix on low, at this point, you don't have to make sure it's all mixed in, just slightly. Next, blend in half the water. Now repeat until all of the water and flour mixture is thoroughly combined. You don't want to over mix it, only enough to get things incorporated.
Pour batter equally into 2 prepared loaf pans. Is that not a beautiful thing? What can I say, the foodie pic gods were with me that day!
Immediately place your pans on a middle to lower/middle rack and set your timer for 60 minutes. Now, here's the hard part....you cannot continuelly open the oven door to check on them. Did you know that you loose between 25-50 degrees of your heat EVERY time you open that oven door? (yes, I've tested this theory) And that it takes approximately 10 minutes for your oven temperature to recover? So....if you have a window and an oven light, use them now. If not, just close your eyes and pray. LOL Nah, just kidding! But seriously, they are going to take at least 60 min, so no need to check them until then. More than likely though, they'll take about 70 minutes (assuming of course your oven temp is calibrated and correct, only you know your oven)
When they look like this,
and a toothpick inserted deep into the center comes out with only a few moist clinging crumbs, they're done. Let them cool in the pans only for about 10 minutes. Next, while they are still warm, gently roll them out onto a double layer of plastic wrap and wrap them up and sit them upright. This will capture the steam and help to make the now crunchy tops soften up and become moist.
While you'll be ever so tempted to slice into a loaf and devour it now.....they do tend to improve in flavor and texture if left overnight. This bread also freezes extremely well, just wrap the loaf again in heavy duty aluminum foil, or, you can place them in a large zip lock baggy. Use within 2-3 months. (as if they even last that long around here, so really, I have no idea! HA!)
So there you have it, perfect for fall pumpkin bread. Oh, and BTW, my perfect and your perfect may not be the same thing. Feel free to throw in any one or two of the following variations (about a cup); walnuts, pecans, raisins, dried cranberries, or yes, even chocolate chips. Whatever you'd like really, in order to make YOUR pumpkin bread perfect!
Lastly, I've also used this recipe as a layered cake. I just bake in 9 or 10" cake rounds. I wrap the layers in plastic and let them sit overnight. This will allow the "crust" to soften up so that it makes for easier trimming. The next day, level the tops, fill and stack the layers (trim edges if they're still a bit stiff) and frost. A maple flavored butter cream or a cream cheese frosting sets this cake over the top!