Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core…
From “To Autumn” by John Keats, 1819
What makes this Pumpkin Bread special is the inclusion of chopped dates, which keeps the loaves moist. A generous amount of ground cloves adds a wonderful spicy autumn scent, and this recipe makes three plump loaves. I use disposable aluminum pans that are conveniently sold at grocery stores in sets of three in the 8”x 3 7/8”x 2 15/32” size. This wonderful Pumpkin Bread can be frozen, wrapped and mailed, carried along with you on a road trip or offered as a hostess gift. Naturally, it is also a perfect addition to an Autumn Afternoon Tea menu.
This year, we will all return to our home town, where our first reunion was held. We will enjoy the lovely autumn colors and cooler temperatures of the Ozarks in October, tour the historic graveyards where our ancestors are buried, and even visit St. Patrick’s Church in nearby Galena, Kansas, my father’s birthplace. This little church, which my great-grandparents helped to build, has a lovely stained-glass window dedicated to my grandmother, Margaret Murphy Murdock and her sister, Rose Anna Murphy Pickett, the grandmothers of my cousins on my father’s side. In addition to catching up with long-lost relatives, Kathleen and I are hoping to find one or two charming little tea rooms in which to indulge our favorite pastime—Afternoon Tea. Kathleen will have her camera ready, and I hope to chronicle this October adventure in a future blog.
Be sure to use an oversized mixing bowl for this luscious Pumpkin Bread, as this recipe makes a lot of batter. This bread can be served plain, sliced like pound cake for a tea party. Sliced Pumpkin Bread is also delicious buttered and toasted in the oven for a few minutes. Another option is to enjoy this bread while it is still slightly warm with vanilla ice cream.
- 2 2/3 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- 1 can (15 ounces) canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2/3 cup water
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup chopped pitted dates
- 2/3 cup chopped toasted almonds or walnuts
- Cooking spray for the pans
Preheat oven to 350° F
- In the pre-heated oven on a foil-lined baking sheet, toast the chopped nuts for about 10 minutes, stirring once with a wooden spoon to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Spray 3 aluminum loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside. In an extra-large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the sugar and oil together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for about 1 minute after adding each egg.
- Add the pumpkin and water to the egg mixture and beat until well mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, beating on low speed just until combined and no flour is visible in the batter.
- Fold the toasted nuts and chopped dates into the batter with a rubber spatula until well distributed. Pour the batter into the 3 prepared loaf pans, distributing it evenly and smoothing the tops with the spatula.
- Bake the loaves for about 1 hour until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack until completely cooled. Serve immediately, or wrap snugly in plastic wrap, then in foil and store at room temperature for up to three days or freeze.