Research tells us that smell is one of the strongest memory evokers. One example of this for me is the shampoo and beauty aisle in the grocery store. Every time I walk by the end-cap I get hit with the almost memory of shopping with my mom as a small child at the local Alpha Beta.
The smell of the spices in pumpkin bread is another one in my nostalgia rolodex. As a kid, my family spent many summers camping in the Sierras and throughout the Pacific Northwest. In preparation for these trips, my mom would make (what seemed like) endless loaves of pumpkin and banana breads to sustain us on the road. To this day, the smell of pumpkin bread reminds me of cold mornings on picnic benches waiting for the sun to crest the mountains as the smell of coffee percolating (in a real percolator) on the Coleman stove slowly filled the air.
It doesn’t matter that I don’t really like pumpkin bread. Or banana bread. The idea of it always makes me happy.
I needed something to take to a morning committee meeting in early October (I’ve talked about how I sometimes have to incentivize my committees before) and in coming up with ideas it occurred to me that the Misanthropic Hostess was lacking a pumpkin bread recipe.
Never able to leave a good recipe alone, I realized that pumpkin is an excellent backdrop to a host of flavors. In this iteration I added toasted coconut and dried cranberries to one loaf and white chocolate chips to the other. Nuts are also an obvious addition here but the receiving committee has a couple of members with nut allergies and the last thing I want on my employment record is murder via baked good. Bright citrus zest or a sweet carmel sauce would also play nicely with pumpkin.
Want to win some goodies? Go here and make your guess in my annual holiday bake-a-palooza contest.
adapted from Libby’s available at www.cooks.com
- 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. each nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
- 1 1/2 c. each granulated sugar and packed brown sugar
- 1 c. oil
- 1 15 ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 4 eggs
- 1 c. each dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, coconut….
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line and butter two 9 1/2 X 51/4 inch loaf pans (or something close to this size)
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the sugars, mixing well.
- Mix dry ingredients with the oil and pumpkin, stirring until well combined.
- Add eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly.
- Fold in fruits, nuts, chocolate.
- Pour into prepared pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
- Cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Place on wire rack to cool.