by Becky Moore
My son may be a fourteen-year-old ninth grader, but he’s not too old (or too cool) to be giddy about November 1 finally rolling around. It’s charming, I tell you, for a kid taller than me to bound into the house counting down the days until Christmas. Because everybody knows, November 1 puts us that much closer to Thanksgiving, which in turn puts us that much closer to Christmas. Since I share his enthusiasm for the holidays, I’m happy to foster that sweet, hopeful sentiment as long as I can.
It doesn’t hurt that once autumn rolls around, we like to bake. It’s a nice change from the hot summer months that encourage us to grill outside and avoid turning on the oven. But give us crisp, cool days and I’ll give you mouthwatering baked goods. Both of my boys (the 14 year old, and the 41 year old) count spiced pumpkin bread among the best things they’ve ever eaten. I like to bake goodies while the boy’s at school so he comes home to an olfactory delight. It never fails … he walks through the door, inhales as much air as his young lungs can hold, and sighs with loud, gluttonous anticipation. “It smells like fall!”
And it does. Even if you’re not a baker, my spiced pumpkin bread is super easy to make. It’s rich and moist, and bursting with flavor!
· 3 cups granulated sugar
· 1 cup vegetable oil
· 3 large eggs
· 1 16-oz can solid pack pumpkin
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· 1/2 tsp hazelnut extract
· 3 cups whole wheat flour
· 1 tsp ground cinnamon
· 1 tsp ground cloves
· 1 tsp ground nutmeg
· 1 tsp baking soda
· 1/2 tsp salt
· 1/2 tsp baking powder
· 1/4-cup brown sugar (optional, for sprinkling on top)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour your pans (I like to make 6 muffins and 2 medium-sized loaves of bread). Beat together the sugar and oil in a large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs, pumpkin and your extracts. Sift in the dry ingredients (flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt) and blend well. I typically use a large whisk and mix it all by hand. My arm’s killing me by the time it’s done, but I enjoy the process.
Scoop the mixture by 1/3-cup measurements into the six muffin cups, and then divide the remaining batter into the two loaf pans. Sprinkle plain brown sugar on the top of the batter (streusel-style). Bake until your cake tester comes out clean when you insert it into the center … about an hour and a couple extra minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely.
This freezes beautifully, and we usually keep the muffins and a loaf out, and freeze the other loaf for another day when we don’t feel like baking but want a treat. Coincidentally, pumpkin is really healthy for you. It’s a great source of fiber and calcium; it’s low-calorie; contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; and has lots of beta-carotenes and Vitamins A, C and E.
Leave a comment and tell us what your favorite thing to bake is when the weather gets cool! One person will win a copy of Becky's book, The Great Outdoors! Don't forget to leave your email address!
Tallulah Murphy is a busy woman. As the newly appointed Director of Education for the Atlanta Art Museum, she has a thousand and one things to do on any given day. Dating is not high on that list; in fact, it’s not even on the radar.