By Terry Harris
If you have ever turned up your nose at the idea of Pumpkin Bread as “boring” – think again. I have no idea why some people think “pumpkin anything” is only suitable around the holidays, but today’s recipe for my super-moist pumpkin bread is likely to disabuse you of that notion in a New York minute. Because besides being quick and easy to prepare, the mildly spicy flavor and blend of textures introduced by any of the options you choose to add make for an extremely moist taste treat that is perfect any time!
I admit that for years the thought of pumpkin bread left me cold - until I started making this. Now, after a few adjustments (of course!) it is one of my all-time favorite recipes – especially when I add pecans and raisins and chocolate chips! And yes, you can omit those options in my recipe and even as “just plain” pumpkin bread, it still will be one of the best things you ever tasted, plus it is so easy to prepare that it does not even require a mixer!
Naturally, I experimented a bit before coming up with the final recipe. Some early efforts were a little dry, some were too spicy, and some were… well, they were not bad, they just were not great! So, I took the best, did a bit more tweaking, and came up with this Super Moist Pumpkin Bread which is SO good that my mother – who is widely known as one of the very best cooks around – loves it, too! In fact, very few things warm up a chilly day like a slice with a cup of hot coffee or a glass of ice-cold milk. And if you toast a slice (or two) and slather on a bit of butter at breakfast time? Bliss!
I nearly always add at least pecans or raisins – sometimes both – and I have discovered that the triple threat combo of the two with chocolate chips produces a drool-worthy result. You certainly could take the decadence a step further by adding coconut or even a glaze or icing. But I have served this a lot of places and many ways and the most popular combination I’ve found is just as this recipe is written - with nuts AND chocolate chips AND raisins. Admittedly this makes it a little more like a dessert than a bread, but I get no complaints!
Feel free to experiment to come up with something tailored to your family’s favorite flavor combinations. That’s half the fun of cooking. And the recipe calls for two “regular” size loaf pans, but with a little attention to baking times you can adapt your recipe for baking things in all different size pans. I have successfully made this in large loaves, mini loaves, Bundt pans, and even in my novelty cake pans for special days. And if you make the mini loaves, you can easily tailor them to various tastes at once by just adding or subtracting the added “treats” individually.
Except for the slow baking time, preparation really is quick and simple, and I’ve yet to find anyone who does not love it. I particularly like that the use of canned pumpkin eliminates all the time (and mess) required for peeling, cleaning, and pre-cooking fresh pumpkin, though I am sure you could do that part from scratch as well if you like.
Tips? First, do not overcook. That’s the quickest way I know to turn out a dry bread or cake.
Second tip - Pay close attention to adjustments of spices so you will not end up like my friend who, as a young bride, spent the better part of the day finding, picking, peeling apples, and making a crust for a perfect apple pie for her new husband who said he loved cinnamon. Wanting to impress him with her (nonexistent at the time) culinary skills, she poured in the entire boxful. Apparently, he valiantly attempted to eat it but, once she took a bite, she threw the rest out and cried herself to sleep. This recipe is tailored to my taste in spices. Do not hesitate to make adjustments but do so carefully.
Also, this is one recipe that you can safely double, triple, or even quadruple. Your only limitations will be the size of your bowl and the capacity of your oven and imagination.As a bonus, this also freezes beautifully, so I like to make up a batch and bake it in mini loaf pans for Mama to keep in her freezer for unexpected company, little thank you gifts, or just last-minute treats when craving something homemade. Just a few seconds in the microwave will not only give you a warm, “just baked” taste, but it also will make the house smell heavenly! Hey, if they think you just took it out of the oven, I won’t tell if you don’t. Enjoy!
Super-Moist (super easy!) Pumpkin Bread
3 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 ½ C Pecan Pieces (optional)
1 ½ C Raisins, microwaved 1 minute in water/drained (optional)
1 ½ C Chocolate Chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9” x 5” loaf pans. Stir together sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl and hollow out a well in the center of the mixture. Whisk together the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and water. Add mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Add any (or all!) optional ingredients desired. Spoon batter into prepared pans and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pans.