I know that pumpkin bread is usually more of a fall thing, but I had a hankering for it now. Also, I'm going to be making a lot of it this fall -- more on that later -- and I wanted to do some final recipe tweaking before then.
For some reason, my mom didn't make quickbreads very often when I was growing up. I don't know why; she baked plenty of other things, but not very many muffins or quickbreads. So I'm not certain I had pumpkin bread at all until probably after college, when I got this recipe from my mother-in-law.
I'm so glad she introduced me to it, because I practically lived on the stuff after my son was born. We went through probably 6 loaves in the first month of his life, and I consumed most of it. I was up at all hours with this tiny person who didn't sleep very long, and nursing every 3 hours, and I was hungry ALL THE TIME. Pumpkin bread was appealing because it was yummy, easy to eat one-handed (with a wee baby boy in the other hand), and ready to eat at any time of day -- no cooking or thawing required. And it has pumpkin in it, right, so it's not totally bad for you...
So pumpkin bread is my go-to food for new moms, and I've got 3 babies due this fall! My boss, my best friend from college, and my sister-in-law (I'm going to be an aunt! Yaaay!) are all pregnant, and due within a 6-week period. I'm going to be baking a lot of pumpkin bread this fall, so it was time to finish tweaking. (Oh, and I guess it's time to ramp up the knitting as well!)
Over the years, I'd made a couple of adjustments to this recipe -- reducing the oil (by HALF! It called for a whole cup. Insane.), coating the pan with cinnamon-sugar -- but nothing major. However, when I was eating so much of it after my son's birth, I noticed that it had a metallic flavor. And that the spices really could use a little more oomph. Reducing the amount of baking soda got rid of the metallic flavor, and including allspice helped with the spices. But it was the addition of just a little vanilla that really made this bread a winner -- this batch is definitely the best yet, and I think I'm happy now to let this recipe stand.
3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (I always use freshly-grated nutmeg -- I don't want to be a snob about it, but it makes a big difference!)
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 15-oz can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup water
Cinnamon-sugar (optional - 2-3 Tbsp)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 2 loaf pans (or 2 muffin tins) and coat with cinnamon-sugar.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly (a whisk will be fine -- you don't need a mixer). There will still be a few lumps.
Divide batter between pans. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.