There are some foods that, for me, are synonymous with the fall season. This factor is likely due to my Grandma Betty. When I was a young child, my family lived with my grandparents for
several years. During that time, I enjoyed my grandmother’s cooking (and boy, could she cook!). Grandma Betty cooked everything from scratch, and was insistent on making some recipes every
year, as part of her family tradition. Each fall, I could count on her baking loaves of pumpkin bread. For Grandma Betty, pumpkin bread started not with canned pumpkin, but with pumpkin
that she would bake (roasting the seeds, of course), and then turn into multiple, delightful dishes.
She added pumpkin to chili, stews, harvest veggie hash, and, of course, to her famous pumpkin pie. Although I loved all of these dishes, I most loved her pumpkin bread, which was always perfectly spiced. Grandma Betty loved spending time outdoors and immersing herself in nature. She especially loved watching birds, so would visit her local Audubon Sanctuary several times a
week, often bringing a snack along with her to share with whomever else happened to be at the Sanctuary. Together, they would enjoy watching birds, while they also enjoyed eating whatever
delicious treat Grandma had recently made. When my sisters and I lived with her, Grandma Betty would bring us to the Audubon to watch the birds. I think that my love of nature, watching
animals, and simply being in nature is rooted in my lovely grandmother. Grandma Betty taught my sisters and me to value nature, to care for it, and to always give back – not only to nature, but
to the people in our community.
On what would be my last trip to the Audubon with her, I remember Grandma Betty sharing her pumpkin bread with strangers she met at the Audubon, always glad to share something with others who loved nature as much as she did. Although she was 90 years old at the time, she never stopped loving people or nature. This past week, I hiked Potash Mountain with a good friend and our two dogs. On the top of the mountain, we shared treats with our dogs, as we watched the birds fly. In that moment, surrounded by nature and in the company of friends who have become family, I remembered my Grandma Betty and her pumpkin bread.
Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Time to cook: 70-80 minutes
Makes: One loaf (8×4 pan)
Dietary Restrictions: Vegetarian, can be Vegan (sub flax eggs for eggs and plant milk for milk), can be GF (sub gluten-free baking flour for whole wheat flour. Bread will be dense and may require a little extra baking time)
1 flax egg OR 2 eggs (*flax egg = 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal and 5 Tablespoons water)
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup applesauce
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree OR 1 ½ cup of cooked, pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour (I use whole wheat, but you can also use all purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a loaf pan (8×4) with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over the sides of the loaf pan. Lightly spray the parchment paper with oil spray.
2. (OPTIONAL) If making a flax egg, whisk together 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal and water. Set aside for five minutes to thicken.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine maple syrup, applesauce, eggs (flax or chicken), pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla extract, stirring to thoroughly combine all ingredients.
4. In a separate bowl, add all dry ingredients (flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt), and stir to combine.
5. Pour all of the dry ingredients into the large bowl with the wet ingredients, and stir to combine (*MB note here that you do not want to overmix this – only stir until all flour is incorporated into the pumpkin/applesauce mixture).
6. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan, and bake at 325 Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, loosely place foil over loaf (to prevent the top from browning), then place pan back in oven. Continue baking for 50-60 minutes, or until a thin knife carefully inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
7. Allow loaf to cool on a baking rack for one hour, then use parchment paper “handles” to remove loaf from pan. Place the loaf directly on the baking rack and allow to finish cooling.
*Recipe adapted from Well Plated by Erin.
Photo at top: The summit of Potash Mountain last week. Photo by MB Mitcham.