Spiced Pumpkin Bread.
Think about it. Doesn’t that just get your mojo going?
Spiced? I love spices.
Pumpkin? It’s that time of the year, no?
Bread? I hate to quibble — this reads more as a cake than bread, but you know what?
It’s crazy delicious — and the perfect thing to drop off when you are feeling neighborly.
Case in point. I saw the moving truck yesterday outside the house across the street and I think our new neighbors are moving in.
Today might be a good time to welcome them to the ‘hood with my first drop off.
And secondly, I sent out a query this week on Nextdoor (a combination of Angie’s List, bulletin board and neighbor watch group) and had some great success, so consequently I had lots of strangers to thank.
I love Nextdoor. In the past I’ve used it as free advertising for garage sales, received recommendations for tradespeople, and as place to hunt down items I want to buy, and I always get lots of responses from cool people.
And they’re all roughly neighbors, which eliminates much of the weird factor.
Last Christmas I mentioned I was looking for inexpensive Lego pieces and a guy responded that he had several pounds of Lego he would just give me — and then he gave me his address to pick it up.
This week I mentioned on Nextdoor that I was looking for an inexpensive lacrosse stick because Oliver wants to give the sport a try and I was reticent to buy the equipment without knowing if he’d like it.
Before I knew it, one guy said he had a stick, then promptly said he was sorry as his wife had given it to Goodwill but he still gave me the his address — he had a unopened bag of lacrosse balls in his garage and I could stop by anytime to pick them up.
Several more people chimed in that they had kids that played lacrosse; they all gave me their numbers and offered to give Oliver a lesson and let him borrow a stick.
Strangers offering to help me out and in the process creating community.
Yet another woman wrote in that she had a stick that she no longer used, and I was welcome to take it. She told me that she works full-time so she couldn’t meet up to give it to me but she gave me her address and where specifically she would place it.
See how generous many Portlanders are? So eager to help and without the expectation of reward.
So clearly, I had a lot of thank you’s I wanted to drop off around town. I also thought that I would use the excuse of freshly baked goods to touch base with some people I hadn’t seen in a while.
Wouldn’t you be happy if an old acquaintance was thinking of you and dropped off something delicious?
(Of course you would.)
Enough chat, let me show you this spiced pumpkin bread.
The recipe comes from Epicurious (via Bon Appetit) and I’ve been using it for years.
I usually prefer cakes made with butter but this one uses a neutral oil (like vegetable or canola)and it has so much moistness to it. Plus, when it’s baking all those great autumnal spices make your house spell like a dream.
I’ve yet to have a person taste it and tell me that they didn’t love it (in fact I’ve given out this recipe so many times that I’ve even copied it onto my computer and send it out as an attachment for inevitable requests).
Another good thing– chances are you have everything you need for it right now.
Here’s the thing with the recipe, though; it calls for a 16 oz. can of pumpkin puree but I could only find the 29 oz. one at my store, so I doubled the recipe and added a half cup of Greek yogurt to make up the volume. Feel free to do the same — yogurt or buttermilk flexes beautifully for the minor pumpkin shortage and adds a wonderful moistness to the crumb.
I also like a cake pan and not a loaf pan as I find that sometimes the interior can be gummy when cooked in the latter, but I’ll leave your pan size up to you. This recipe also works really well for cupcakes, and I’ll probably make these at least a half dozen times between now and Christmas.
To wrap it up, I found some great old shelf liner paper I picked up at an estate sale ages ago and I used that to line some simple craft paper I had on hand.
The two papers combined gave the packages enough heft that they wouldn’t collapse when delivering.
I also found some vintage fabric I bought last month and decided that it would be pretty cut into strips for ribbon.
I made the cakes last night so they were cool this morning when it came time to wrap them all up.
(Isn’t my new tape dispenser the bomb?)
Because I’d doubled the recipe, I had lots of packages to go.
In fact, I had made so much pumpkin bread that I had eleven packages to deliver, with plenty left for those eaters closer to home.
Like my hubby, my kids, a couple of their friends, and the guy from Comcast who I just surprised with a plate.
I love it when grown men ask for a glass of milk to go with a sweet.
I think it’s adorably nostalgic.
So, thanks Nextdoor Grant Park for connecting me to the kindness of strangers.
Megan, thanks for responding to my query and leaving me the lacrosse stick. As promised, I wanted to barter something for it.
I hope you like your dinner and dessert.
Prosciutto and basil make everything better, don’t you think?
Portlanders, if you have a skill, garden bumper crop or something else (we all know I’m a sucker for almost anything robin’s egg blue) you want to barter for some home cooking (or lessons), let me know — I’m game for all kinds of trades (PG, please).
And now, let the pumpkin season commence!
- 3 C. sugar
- 1 C. vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 16-ounce solid pack pumpkin
- 2 tsp. vanilla (optional)
- 3 C. all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. ground ginger (optional)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9X5X3 - inch loaf pans* .
- Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs, pumpkin and vanilla (if using).
- Sift flour, all spices, baking soda, salt and baking powder into large bowl.
- Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.
- Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.
- *(I used one 9X11 pan instead, and reduced cooking time to about 40 minutes).