The practice of gratitude is, perhaps, the single most life-changing endeavor in which you can engage. When you give thanks, you cultivate a sense of satiety, of contentment, compassion, and generosity. When you give praise for the bowl of food in front of you, you may think that another's is empty. When your heart is warmed by the affection of a small creature who shares your home, you may wish to alleviate another's loneliness. When you reflect upon the many, many hands and hearts who have helped you in ways from the seemingly trivial to the profound, you may find the desire to pay it forward to another, be it a stranger or your best friend. So, in the spirit of generosity, let me share with you the recipe for the bread that is currently tormenting me with its luscious fragrance wafting from my kitchen...
This is another recipe that was given to me by a friend (who first blessed me by giving me some of this bread *swoon*) and which I only have as a photocopy, so I cannot credit the original source.
The cookbook says: "Serve this slightly sweet quick bread with soup or salad for dinner, or as a breakfast treat. It stays moist for several days and freezes well, so it's a great food gift for the holidays." I would agree, though I cannot speak (yet) personally regarding its freezing or keeping properties. The cookbook also notes that the bread can be kept wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 days [yeah, try to keep it around that long!] or can be frozen up to 1 month.
½ cup raw, unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin puree
⅓ cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pepitas until they pop and are lightly browned. With a chef's knife, coarsely chop them and set aside.
In a bowl, mix together the oil, eggs, pumpkin puree, and water. In another large bowl, mix together the remaining dry ingredients. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the toasted, chopped pepitas and spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool and remove from the pan.
After my struggles with Heidi Swanson's completely amazing Zucchini Bread, I was really nervous to make sure that this was cooked through, yet I wanted to be sure not to overcook it and dry it out. I did leave it in for an extra 10-15 minutes though because the part at the base of the crack in the crust below seemed a bit gooey, and I thought I might cry if it turned out to be filled with gook since the unbelievable smells coming from the kitchen were nearly torture as I waited for the timer to ring. I barely waited for the bread to cool before cutting it, and let me just say that the title of this post is no exaggeration. About half the loaf is gone now (yes, I shared), and it is properly cooked all the way through, and my mom agrees--it's The. Best. Pumpkin. Bread. Ever.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, and do try to share--it will be hard, but it will be worth it to see the smiles on others' faces. :)