Muffin version in front of my winter herb window

PREVIEW:  DROP IN AND DECORATE IS MONDAY, DECEMBER 20 4-8PM

COME BY ALYCE’S TO DECORATE A FEW COOKIES, SHARE A MEAL OF SOUP AND BREAD, OR TO JUST ENJOY THE SEASON.  COOKIES WILL BE HAND-DELIVERED TO THE BRIDGE, ASSISTED LIVING CENTER THE FOLLOWING DAY.  PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR.  SEE YOU THEN!!!! 

One or two things I make during the holiday season go from September-January.  Pumpkin bread is one of them.  If you know me well, you’ve eaten my pumpkin bread.  I have several versions and every one is different and unique and yummy and… special.  I kind of work of it from year to year.  My choirs eat it; my husband lathers cream cheese on it.  I make it into muffins; my friends husbands say to their wives, “Why don’t you make anything like this?”  (Mostly because they’re eating cake at dinner.) 

This year, I had sweet ideas. Whoa:  Candied ginger.  Black pepper.  Cayenne.  Pumpkin seeds.  I tried it out.  Twice. Increased the ginger the second time.  Passed it around at home and elsewhere.  I took some to St. Paul, where we visited for Thanksgiving, froze our butts off, made it through a job interview (me-whewgladitzovah), 13 houses,  and came home drop-in-bed sick from.  We ate it there for breakfast.  Every day. Ah.  Thanksgiving time!  So I’m keeping this version.  It seemed to go over well, even with Sue’s friend Gladys, a top-notch cook and baker at 91.  She did say, however,

“WHAT is in this?  I don’t like eating stuff when I don’t know what’s in it.” 

I think it was the candied ginger and the cranberries.  Of course the black pepper might have done it, too.  Or the cayenne.  Well.   I like pepper in bread; sue me.  And I’m gonna go right on making it. Like that. It does make super gifts and can be made as tiny loaves, muffins or big loaves.  Maybe even T-tiny muffins for a buffet.  Try it; you’ll like it.  Everyone else did.  Better make a bunch.  (Provenance:  I think the original recipe for this came from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK.)  Freezes well.  (No longer than 2-3 weeks, though)

Pumpkin seeds.  Use some in the bread.  Eat the rest.  Good for you.  Great in bread!

Alyce’s Newest Pumpkin Bread Featuring Candied Ginger and Black Pepper.  OH, and Cayenne, too.

  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1 c boiling water
  • 2/3 c butter, soft (to cut fat, use half apple-sauce–no more than that)
  • 2 c pumpkin ( a can is 15 oz now; add applesauce to complete the  2 c)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c candied ginger, minced
  • 2/3 c evaporated milk, low-fat or fat-free  (can use regular milk instead)
  • 3 1/3 c unbleached white flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t salt  (sorry, left out of original post–corrected  11/18/11)
  • 2t Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1/2 t freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4-1/3 c salted or unsalted pumpkin seeds (I like salted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F for bread or 400 for muffins. Grease and flour pans.  For muffins pans, grease only.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and boiling water.  Set aside.
  3. With hand-held electric or standing electric mixer, beat together in a large bowl butter, pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, sugar and candied ginger until light and fluffy.  Beat in milk until well-mixed.
  4. On top of the wet ingredients, measure dry ingredients:  flour, soda, baking powder, spices.  Carefully mix just the dry ingredients with a spoon or rubber spatula, trying to avoid mixing the dry ingredients into the wet.  Using electric mixer, beat wet and dry ingredients together until just incorporated.  Don’t over beat.  Drain cranberries well and stir into batter gently.
  5. If desired, sprinkle pumpkin seeds into bottom of prepared pans (9×5) or baby loaf pans (3×5 or similar) or muffin tins.  Use ice cream scoop for muffins. 
  6. For loaves or baby loaf pans, bake at 350 for about an hour or half-hour, respectively.  Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer; it will come out almost clean when the bread is done.  Leave in pans 5 minutes.  Bang bottoms of pans on board, floor or counter before turning out on to racks carefully to cool completely.   If sticking, use thin, sharp knife to go around edges.  When absolutely cool, wrap well in foil.  Store on counter 1-2 days, in frig for 2-3 days, and in freezer up to 2-3 weeks.
  7. If in muffin tins, bake at 400 F for maybe 15 minutes or until nicely browned and firm to the touch.  Turn out immediately onto metal cooling racks.  Follow storage instructions above, though muffins store well in large plastic containers that are freezer safe.

This is a great pumpkin bread pan loaf.  Pan available at Williams-Sonoma.  (Design changes year to year.)

Just thought you’d like to see the options….

Bake now while it’s quiet one night.  Wrap up your treasures carefully in shiny foil. You can even put ribbons on them before you put them in the freezer.  Be ready as you move through Advent into Christmas.  Or as you hit the second day of Hanukkah.  Breathe and study.  Live and love.  Don’t get crazy over what you’re supposed to do.   Or as you live through another day…
Don’t let the light go out (see and hear song, LIGHT ONE CANDLE)  and, while you’re at it, pray that I see the the path where God is undoubtedly shining it if I just could only be aware enough…
 
Alyce