There’s something about the appearance of the warm orangey tones of the first pumpkin sightings of the season that sends me into my boots and running to swap out our marigolds for mums. Pumpkins are one of those iconic objects; their presence gives a warm and fuzzy feeling and tempts our palettes to hunger for the fresh comfort breads direct from the oven and for those delicious creamy spiced beverages.
For me and my family, pumpkins exist as a symbol of togetherness. With the busy school schedules after our lazy summer, pumpkins serve as a vessel for us to come together again during this time. As a family, we pile into our car to make the trip out east for a day of pumpkin picking. Together we carve them, pulling their insides out and squishing them between our fingers. We use them to create pumpkin-based comfort foods and, then of course, we sit around a table to enjoy them together.
We take the opportunity of a crisp autumn morning to head out to St. James and BB & GG Farm. We bypass the gloriously full farm stand and head about a quarter mile down the road to their pumpkin patch. The pumpkins sit scattered, all off their vines, under the picture-perfect blue horizon. The field is dotted with the odd scary Halloween decoration that the boys take turns running around. We walk through the giant orange gourds, searching for the perfect specimen to bring home. The boys’ three and four-year old frames fall just short of being able to lift any of them for more than a quick attempt. They find a display of smaller ones on a tractor and begin to load our wheelbarrow with as many as their little hands can grab. We grab a few for carving and a small one for baking before hopping on the tractor for the hay ride before we head back to the car.
Our baking objective today is making my favorite seasonal recipe: pumpkin bread. I would give up all other sweets, if only given the chance to eat one thing for dessert, happily settling on the warm and moist pumpkin bread that usually only makes its appearance during the autumn season. Using fresh pumpkin can be a really satisfying way to completely throw yourself into the seasonal baking frenzy, but, in my opinion, using the canned puree can be just as delicious. Having made all of my boys their baby food over the better part of the last five years, making the pumpkin into a puree seems pretty natural for our kitchen and we dive in. The boys are not at all interested in pulling out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin, instead pierce the sides with our new pumpkin carving safety knives.
Once baked and pureed (see recipe here), the boys take turns spooning the ingredients into the bowl. It is a good lesson in patience and care as they take turns delicately spooning everything in. A spoonful of flour somehow misses and ends up on our table. All is well as we finish the blending until I hear the familiar blows of “raspberries” from the other side of the kitchen. I am elbow deep into the oven, putting our loaves in as I glance up to the sounds of laughter and a fog that I realize has come from every last flour particle being blown from its large pile on the table all over our kitchen floor. I count on these mishaps to come with our successes. Here, besides bread, we are creating memories in our kitchen.
Momma Kris’s Pumpkin Bread
Makes two loaves
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups canned or fresh pumpkin
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Blend sugar with oil in mixer.
- Whip in eggs, one at a time.
- Add pumpkin and blend well.
- Stir in dry ingredients to just combine.
- Divide into two loaf pans.
- Bake for approximately one hour.
- Eat and enjoy the goodness!