Monday, November 7, 2011

Long Overdue

Dear Boo,

I cannot believe how many times on this blog we have mentioned the unbelievably good pumpkin bread which is a staple of fall in our family, without giving the recipe. It's positively criminal.

I can't remember a time before this autumnal treat graced our Thanksgiving table, and how many countless years did we set off to school with loaf upon loaf wrapped in colorful cellophane and tied with a bow to be bestowed upon our teachers before the holidays? It's truly the perfect baked gift--it travels well, freezes well, and doubles or triples well. I brought six loaves of these, carrying them on the plane, through a day of sightseeing in DC, and in the car, to the very first Thanksgiving I spent with the Husband's (then, Boyfriend) family, winning me instant cred and a repeat invitation (now they're stuck with me, loaves or no. mmwwahahaha!)

This recipe comes from our beloved Aunt, an incredible baker and cook, of Arlene's Bakery soon-to-be-fame. And we're in luck! Since re-creating anything you grew up eating and loving, never quite works out as perfectly as you remember it, we can get the actual real deal from the source at our cousin's super exciting and unbelievably tasty new spot for a perfect sandwich or cookie, The Commons in Chelsea! More to come on this, for sure. I can't wait to plant myself at their adorable counter and eat my way through the menu. If you happened to stop by their Organicoa concession stand at the Hudson River Park this year, you've gotten a delicious taste of what we're in for at The Commons.
Also available at The Commons (though pictured here at home), are Arlene's Bakery's massive and perfect chocolate chip cookies. Get thee to The Commons.
You know what I'm talking about.

As our auntie pointed out recently, the beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. It's got few ingredients, and sure, it's sweet, but not overly so; rather, the pumpkin flavor itself is front and center, with just a hint of warmth and spice from the cinnamon. I would have to agree its virtually perfect on its own, with one exception. I happen to love the combination of pumpkin and chocolate, and in past years I have taken to adding a handful of chocolate chips to one of the loaves for a more decadent version which is often the first to be polished off. I also like adding some cranberries to one of the loaves for a tart little kick. I remember mom used to do this with cranberries and walnuts, but I'm not a huge nut fan so I just do the berries.

Here's how I see it:

cranberry loaf = to be eaten for breakfast
plain loaf = to be eaten with dinner
chocolate loaf= to be eaten for dessert

In my book, this bests over-rated pumpkin pie any day of the week. (I'm willing to go head-to-head on this in the comments. Bring it.)

Stay tuned for more news from The Commons in the coming weeks! Wanna go with me for lunch on opening day?

The Mouse

Pumpkin Bread
Courtesy Arlene's Bakery for The Commons

Makes 3 loaves

3-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups sugar

1 cup oil (corn or vegetable)

2 cups pumpkin puree

2/3 cup water

4 eggs

Optional: chocolate chips, frozen cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350°
Combine first 5 (dry) ingredients in a large bowl. Add last 4 (wet) ingredients and mix until smooth. Divide into 3 well greased & floured loaf pans (disposable aluminum foil ones work great, as do the paper loaf liners you can find at specialty baking stores). Mix in chocolate chips or cranberries to your liking. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*And if you've got leftover pumpkin puree after making this, here are some great ideas for how to use it (other than making some more loaves and bringing them to me.)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful compliments. It's true, that the pumpkin bread is a winner - a never fail, simple recipe that gets rave reviews from all who taste it. Make it yourself, or buy it (and other delicious goodies) from Arlene's Bakery at The Commons.....which will be open in a few short weeks. Love, the Aunty.

Anonymous said...

ummmmmyummmmmy yum yum!!

Anonymous said...

I must say, however, that I believe the origins to this family recipe come from OUTSIDE the family. At the top of my recipe written in my mom's handwriting somewhere it says Becky's Pumpkin Bread from old friends Dick and Becky Wasserstrom who had a farm we went to as children (as I recall). Is this correct? Or have you adapted it over the years?

I make this bread throughout the month of November. It's on my Thanksgiving table, is a favorite of my inlaws and friends, and of course the girls, Uncie Howie, Billy and Jess and the boys. Who doesn't love this bread?

Jaclyn Perlmutter said...

I just made this -- so fluffy and moist!!! I did make a couple substitutions, though, just based on what I had on hand. Olive oil instead of veg or corn oil, and whole wheat flour. The pumpkin-y taste did get a little lost, but I'm pretty sure that's because both olive oil and whole wheat flour have kind of a pronounced taste. Next time, if I use whole wheat and olive oil, I'll add maybe an extra 1/4c of pumpkin. Also, I added golden raisins.

The Mouse said...

Great to hear that, Jaclyn! I imagine the olive oil would make a big difference. Has anyone else tried it with whole wheat flour? I love that idea!

CT Gramma said...

You remember the dairy farm correctly. The Wasserstroms raised Holsteins--there were even cows named for you and Billy--and four daughters, the two you knew and two more later on. Becky's Pumpkin Bread recipe has been passed around every year and made by every member of the family. In the original there is nutmeg as well as cinnamon (1 tsp. each). When I didn't have enough eggs, I used three and adjusted the rest down, and it worked as well. Just left pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for Bill's boys, as well as a loaf for Jess. It's a great family tradition.

The Mouse said...

Mystery solved! I should give credit where credit is due. But I suppose that's the beauty of home cook recipes--they get passed around and everyone adds their own touches to them.

The Boo said...

FYI this loaf is also excellent made with coconut oil. slightly fluffier.