Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

I was frantic. I couldn't find my favorite pumpkin bread recipe and I had promised my knitting group I would be making seasonal treats. It's finally October, which is the season of trench coats, knee high boots, and pumpkin recipes.

About ten years ago, I procured a pumpkin bread recipe from a co-worker. It was made with brown sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. It was almost cake like in consistency. It was a favorite recipe that I turned to every fall. It made two loaves so I doled out pumpkin bread to all my friends and co-workers. I didn't think anyone could beat that pumpkin bread.

Then about three years ago, when I worked at a different job in a different city and state, I ran across another pumpkin bread recipe at work. It only took moments with this new bread for me to abandon my old recipe and commit myself to the new one. Unlike its rival, this pumpkin bread was made with white sugar, four different spices, and not an ounce of chocolate. But it was delicious.

So the following year, I held a bake off. A pumpkin bread head-to-head. I insisted that my co-workers try both breads and vote. And despite the lure of chocolate in the first bread, only one person voted for it. Everyone else preferred the second, spiced up version.

The recipe is on a folded piece of paper. It is a photocopy of a photocopy from some unknown cookbook. It is oddly named "Lydia's Pumpkin Bread" and has another woman's name (not Lydia) at the bottom. The instructions are vague and brief, and I always leave out the raisins and nuts. It turns out wonderful every time.

So that's why last night and again this morning I frantically searched through my recipe clippings until I finally found it. There was no alternative and no electronic version. And that's why I had to record it here, so I never have to frantically search for it again.

Lydia's Pumpkin Bread
Yield: 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin (about 1/2 can)
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/3 cup water
raisin or nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the first four ingredients in order in a large bowl. Sift remaining dry ingredients (flour through spices) in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture slowly to wet ingredients, alternating with water, and mixing after each addition. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Test with knife in center of loaf. If knife comes out dry, bread is done.

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