Have you ever had “that recipe”? You know the one. The one you make for any potluck, any occasion and gets just rave reviews? The one that you’re very proud of and know you make excellently? The one where you never volunteer the recipe? This is that recipe for me.
A couple of you already have this recipe, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to some hesitation about sharing this recipe at large. I don’t like the idea of losing the specialness of “that recipe” once everyone can make it. I have heard that happens to some people. But, really, why not share it? And for those who are wondering, yes, it’s in a cookbook I own, so it’s sort of accessible. Sort of, because…
There’s no cookbook link for this recipe, as it’s one of those fund-raising cookbooks (like the Pie Town pie cookbook). The organization that was raising funds was the Greater Albuquerque Family Child Care Association (Warning: Music), and I got this cookbook from my aunt (who I believe is or was a member). There’s no link to the cookbook on that site, though. My aunt at least submitted this recipe.
In fact, not only did did my aunt give me the cookbook, I think she said she did so because this recipe is in it (in case I forgot it at some point). The “mom” in question is her mother, my Grandma B. She makes simply amazing pumpkin bread. You can make pretty good pumpkin bread too, by following her recipe, but I doubt it’ll be as good. Mine’s not as good yet. It’s close, but doesn’t have that special “grandma magic”.
3 c granulated sugar
1 c vegetable oil
1 2/3 c pumpkin, or 1 15/16 oz can (The recipe calls for a 16 oz can, but they have long since been downsized; 15 oz works fine.)
4 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
2/3 c water
Grease and flour two 9″ × 5″ x 3″ loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, pumpkin and eggs. Beat until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients together, then add to the pumpkin mixture alternating with water. Mix until blended. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes1, or until the center springs back when lightly touched with fingertip. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and cool completely.
Cooking and Consumption Notes
First, until typing this up, I don’t think I have ever noticed that the eggs are supposed to be beaten before being added to the wet ingredients. Clearly, that is not necessary. However, I think I’ll start doing so from here on out. There’s enough wet ingredients that sometimes it can be difficult to break up the egg yolks while mixing.
Second, the wet ingredients never get “fluffy”, as conventionally defined. Go for “well mixed with the sugar dissolved”.
Third, I don’t usually sift the dry ingredients together. It’s fine. Sometimes I mix them together with a fork. Sometimes I don’t. Magically it all works out.
Fourth, this never bakes in just 45 minutes, ever, ever. The closest it ever came was when I made a double batch with Grace, my piano teacher, this past Friday and we had all four in the oven at once. Two of the four baked in an hour. Usually this takes an 1 – 1.5 hours (and I check with a fork, not by “springiness”). Feel free to start checking it at 45 minutes, or be brave and wait for an hour to do the first check.
Most importantly, this bread is nearly impossible to screw up. Seriously. Of the reasons you’re worried you’ll screw it up, let’s start with the big one. Yes, it’s a quickbread, and yes, over-mixing quickbreads can lead to them being tough, but I’ve never had this happen. Not even in my first baking days of “DEATH TO LUMPS!” Furthermore, I have nearly forgotten the eggs and stirred them in at the last minute (unbeaten, of course). Fine. I have done the same with the water (which takes a lot of time and stirring to fix, lemme tell ya). Fine. I’ve used only 14.5 oz pumpkin/recipe (a 29 oz can for the double batch). Fine.
It’s hard to screw up beyond forgetting an ingredient completely or burning it.
For those who are still daunted (because there are those in this world for whom baking is precise and scary (or just scary)), let me say this: My mother dumps everything in at once. Doesn’t pre-beat the eggs, doesn’t sift anything (I’m not sure she owns a sifter), measures with minimal precision, and mixes with a wooden spoon. (All of which I have also done, except the minimal precision measurements.) Her bread is the best of all (don’t tell Grandma B. or my aunt.)
If it’s not clear what I think of this bread by now, you’re not paying attention.
1 In my extensive experience with this recipe, 45 minutes is never long enough.