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.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.
You know what I'm talking about.
You know what I'm talking about.
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?
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
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.)