Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Do you have a food that takes you back to a vivid time in your life? When I taste pumpkin bread and smell its nostalgic aroma in my house, I'm reminded of two things: 1) the leaves are changing and 2) the time my mom gave this recipe to each parent in my kindergarten class and forgot to include the "1/2 cup of water" ingredient. I can still remember her telling me she had to send a follow-up email to the parents apologizing for the typo. This was weeks after the complaints that their breads "just didn't taste the same."
I don't often speak of my darling mother Karen on my blog because simply put, she's not a baker. While she did teach me an abundance of cooking basics, I honestly taught myself how to bake through endless episodes of Food Network and cookbooks. While most kids were watching Spongebob, I couldn’t get enough of Barefoot Contessa and Giada De Laurentiis. This pumpkin bread recipe, however, is one that's been around in my family for some time and the only thing I've seen Karen bake from scratch.
Naturally, I've added and subtracted a few things that is the result of the recipe below. Some of you will read this and be appalled I'm not adding nuts, or all spice, or ginger. Ginger (in my kindest opinion) has no place in pumpkin bread and my brother is allergic to nuts, so I add them when he's not around. I can hear him now, "You seriously had to add nuts to this?" Sometimes as the chef you have to cater to your audience, which I try to do (most days).
Let's touch on the subtractions made to this pumpkin bread. Through many trials, I've found that replacing majority of the vegetable oil with an unsweetened applesauce tastes the same, if not better. I use this same trick in brownies to cut that "oily flavor" you can get from a box of brownies. Meanwhile, you're cutting a hunk of fats and calories too. What's not to love?
Sharing recipes with you all is much more than just "blogging" or posting fun food photos for you all to view. It's about sharing the journey of how these recipes came about and in turn, you all reminding me of why I share them. When I receive photos of your fiancé in an apron with my baked brie in his hands or a banana bread on your family's Thanksgiving table, you've created new moments I've attached to each post I've sent out to the internet. Moments I'll be adding to my vivid memories when I take my next bite.
As always, may the inspiration found here find light in your kitchen.
1 2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup Libby's canned pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
In a large bowl, combine water, applesauce, eggs, and pumpkin. Mix until even. In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients, making sure the spices and baking soda/powder are evenly distributed.
Carefully fold the wet ingredients into the dry, adding about 1 cup of dry to wet at a time.
Butter a loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. Pour mixture about two-thirds full. (Do not overfill or the bread will rise over the sides and not bake throughout the middle properly.)
Bake at 350ºF for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Enjoy warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, plain with a hot cup of coffee, or—my favorite—with a dollop of whipped cream cheese on top!