Remember what I said before about pumpkin being the kind of fall you could eat? Well, it’s still true—only, OK, listen: this hasn’t just been any fall.
This year in Chicago, fall’s gone above and beyond. Literally. Yesterday was the third day in a row where temps soared into the 70s. Yes, you read that right: 70s! In late October! While the trees are already ten shades of orange and red! I went somewhere last night and had to take my sweater off, that’s how warm I was. It’s the kind of thing people talk about wherever you go—church, the grocery store, chatting on the phone—as if, no matter what your feelings or indifference about this crazy gorgeous season that transitions from the long daylight of summer into the snow and frost of winter, one thing remains, at least this year, at least where I live: autumn’s got your attention.
I guess the same could be said of many things, from football to TV shows to the pleasure of reading a good book: the die-hard lovers will take the good and bad alike. They’ll cheer for their losing team. They’ll watch when no one else is. That’s like me and fall: rain or sun, cold or warm, thick and thin, I’m already sold. It’s many of us and pumpkin, especially this time of year, when we can have the pancakes and the muffins and the carving and the Jack O’ Lanterns. But just like it’s more fun to watch a winning team and just like some Octobers are easier to love than others, some pumpkin recipes are more impressive, more endearing, more oh-my-gosh good.
Like the best pumpkin bread you’ll ever have for example.
I am so excited about this pumpkin bread. To put it another way, if pumpkin is fall, this pumpkin bread is these last few days of October. It is weather warm enough to mean no jacket. It is driving home with the windows open. It is comfort and daylight and the best of summer with the best of the months after, where the lawns are covered with crunchy leaves and you just step outside and feel the sun on your face.
It doesn’t last long, despite yielding two loaves, but that’s only because it tastes so good and maybe because that’s how the best things go. And over the next few days, as the weather returns to low 40s (or lower! did someone say snow?), I’m going to hold onto the last few slices, savor them the way I do October, and enjoy every bite.
Adapted from The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Recipes
Makes two large (what I did) or three small loaves
When I say this is the best pumpkin bread you’ll ever have, I mean it’s the BEST—and yes, I realize that since it has just as much squash as pumpkin, maybe pumpkin-squash bread would be a better description. Whatever you call it, you’re going to be amazed: moist, spiced, fragrant, FALL. And if you spread some organic cream cheese on top? Oh. Man.
2 cups Sucanat (or other sugar)
2/3 cup olive oil
1 cup cooked, mashed, fresh pumpkin
1 cup cooked, mashed squash (I used a red kuri)
4 large eggs
2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup dried cranberries (or fresh, or raisins)
2/3 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease two 9 X 5 or three 8.5 X 4.5 loaf pans. In a large bowl, stir together Sucanat, olive oil, pumpkin and squash. Beat in the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients together and then add them to the pumpkin-squash mixture alternately with the milk, stirring to blend. Fold in the cranberries and nuts, if using. Spread the batter into loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (check at one hour, if using the smaller loaf pans), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.