For the first sweet bread recipe I developed, I focused on cramming as much zucchini into the batter as would still bake into a sliceable loaf. The goals were to create a delicious recipe and use up one of my garden’s most prolific crops.
Outside the summer growing season, winter squash becomes an equally tasty and readily available quick bread ingredient. “Quick” refers to the leavening power of baking soda and powder that allow you to mix and immediately bake the bread, in contrast to kneading and long rise times often required for yeast breads (including sourdough). Quick breads still take time to assemble and mix, need an hour in the oven and are easiest to cut after they’ve cooled completely.
To speed up the process of making pumpkin bread, get the puree ready the day before you want to bake. That could mean making Roasted Winter Squash Puree from a whole pumpkin or other squash or, if you did this weeks ago, moving the puree from the freezer to the fridge to defrost.
Keeping a jar of pumpkin spice mix in your collection will also save time by reducing the number of individual spices you need to measure out. I use the same spice mix in this recipe that I put on Spiced and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and in pumpkin pie. I maximize the flavor by blending whole spices using the technique I’ve shared at TwiceAsTasty.com.
Once baked, these loaves freeze well. I slice them before freezing so that it’s easy to defrost and enjoy a piece at a time.
Pumpkin Quick Bread
Makes 2 loaves
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons pumpkin spice mix
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs
1-3/4 cups roasted pumpkin puree
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup raisins
In a large bowl, mix the white and whole-wheat flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Blend in the spice mix; set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat together the white and brown sugars and applesauce. Mix in the butter, and then beat in each egg. Fold the pumpkin puree into the mixture.
Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, stirring until just combined and scraping flour from the bowl’s bottom into the batter. Add the chopped nuts and raisins, folding them gently into the batter; if desired, reserve a couple of tablespoons of each as a topping.
Split the batter between two lightly greased 9- by 5-inch loaf pans; sprinkle with any nuts and raisins set aside. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, rotate the pans and then bake another 30 minutes, until the tops are golden and slightly cracked and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, remove from the pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.