The sounds and smells of fall are predictably familiar and comforting. I’ve known them all my life, hearing the chorus of geese honking to one another as they head south, smelling the smoke from a pile of leaves drifting from a backyard, and feeling the crispness in the air as a child trick or treating or walking to school. Even as an adult the pattern continues, the leaves still crunch underfoot, rustling and swirling in the breeze stirred up as I walk my own children to the bus stop each morning. We often talk about taste memories, but it is the echoes, scents, and displays of fall that bring me right back to childhood each year.
That is not to say that the tastes of autumn go by the wayside. Flavors are warmer, spicier, and richer, adding life to both sweet and savory dishes. On these cool days I crave baking- wanting to fill the kitchen with the colors, flavors, and aromas of fall.
This pumpkin bread recipe fits the bill. Many pumpkin bread recipes call for oil as the fat of choice while this recipe uses butter, which I prefer. The original calls for water or orange juice as the liquid, but I swap in cider, as it seems a better complement to the pumpkin. Another addition is nutmeg, to partner with the cinnamon and cloves. I’ve reduced the sugar, which hasn’t done any harm (and no one notices). Finally, the raisins are completely eliminated instead I occasionally add walnuts.
This makes two large loaves of pumpkin bread, one to enjoy now, one to freeze for another day down the road as we march towards winter.
*adapted from The Martha Stewart Cookbook, Collected Recipes for Everyday
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), at room temperature
3 Tablespoons molasses
1 ½ cups sugar
2/3 cup cider
2 cups pumpkin puree, homemade or canned
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans.
With an electric mixer, cream butter, molasses, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat until light. Add cider and pumpkin purée and mix well.
Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl, and add the pumpkin mixture, stirring well with a wooden spoon to thoroughly combine. If using the nuts, add them now, folding them carefully into the batter.
Divide evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool.
*This recipe is easily multiplied and freezes well.