Autumn is my favorite baking season. The crisp air and changing leaves just call out for warm fragrant spiced baked goods. The denser and spicier the better, and nothing is more wonderful than a spicy pumpkin bread!
I have a pumpkin bread recipe that I've been baking for the better part of two decades. The loaves come out dense and spicy but a little fluffy too, and the bread's always been a big hit whenever I serve it. It's called Victoria's Pumpkin Bread, and is a recipe from Crescent Dragonwagon. (I've mentioned this recipe last year, at the end of the TWD Pumpkin Muffins post.)
This year when the calendar turned to October, pumpkin recipes were suddenly everywhere; sweet and savory, pastas, cheesecakes, cupcakes, and soups. I resolutely ignored all recipes for pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread until I saw Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread on the Serious Eats site. I just had to try it to see if it was as good as my old standby pumpkin bread. Only one way to find out: bake them both, side by side.
left: Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread, right: Victoria's Pumpkin Bread
- The recipe for the Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread was posted on Serious Eats, which is an immensely entertaining food site, and a valuable Twitter contact (because it sends out tweets to things like pumpkin bread recipes!)
- Scroll down to the end of this post for the recipe for Victoria's Pumpkin Bread
- I roasted a couple of "sugar pumpkins," also called "pie pumpkins" according to the method given in the Serious Eats post that accompanies the Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread recipe. Last year I prepared cooked pumpkin two other ways: in the microwave and by roasting cut up pieces in the oven, and I have to say that I prefer this year's puree from the roasted whole pumpkins. It's much easier to cut the pumpkins once they are cooked, and the puree is neither dried out nor watery.
- I've found that homemade puree is much lighter in color than canned pumpkin puree. I like my pumpkin bread to be a bit dark and spicy, so I mixed some canned puree in with my homemade puree, and used the same mixture for both pumpkin bread recipes. The difference in color in the final bread comes from the proportion of pumpkin to flour, and the other ingredients in the recipes.
- In both recipes I used a mixture of 2/3 All Purpose flour and 1/3 White Whole Wheat flour. Otherwise I stuck to the recipes as written.
- The Olive Oil recipe calls for "light" flavored olive oil. I had "extra-light" flavored olive oil, so I mixed hit half and half with regular olive oil.
- I baked the bread on a chilly gray day with a mug of steaming tea at hand. Nothing could be more perfect!
My husband and I both agreed that the Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread was head and shoulders above the Victoria's Pumpkin Bread. The Olive Oil bread was dense, moist, dark and spicy, compared to the lighter spiced Victoria's bread. While I still like the Victoria recipe, I'm going to have to make the Olive Oil recipe my go-to pumpkin bread.
Victoria's Pumpkin Bread
from ‘The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook’
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger
6 cups unbleached white flour (can use half whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat)
1 c mild vegetable oil
½ cup yogurt (I often use ¾ c oil and ¾ c yogurt)
4 eggs or equivalent egg substitute
3 c sugar (can use part brown sugar)
2 ½ c. unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 c. chopped black walnuts (I never use nuts)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, sift together the cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, ground cloves, ground ginger, allspice and flour. Set aside
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, yogurt, eggs, sugar and pumpkin. Mix until smooth.
4. Combine the two mixtures and beat until smooth. Fold in the walnuts.
5. Pour the batter into 3 8x4 or 9x5 inch loaf pans (no more than 2/3 up the pan)
6. Bake for around 1 hour, or until the loaves shrink away from the sides of the pan and have a hollow sound when tapped. Test for doneness after 45 minutes.