Spiced Pumpkin Bread
by Kathryn May-Price
In late October, the earth is strewn in fallen leaves, spread like skirts around the bases of trees to die. Their slow breakdown will nourish another season’s growth. This is when the end leads to a beginning in nature.
I’m especially reflective in the autumn and I hunger for foods that are nourishing to the soul as well as the belly. I love this time of year so much, I got married in late October. And no, I don’t miss the significance of my marriage (a new beginning) falling around the time when we celebrate the Day of the Dead or Halloween.
Like any celebration, there are food traditions – and Halloween is much more than king-sized candy bars (though delicious). In the Day of the Dead tradition, we cook for those loved ones we have lost. This can mean laying out altars (ofrendas) of favorite and fragrant foods meant to entice the old souls with a wafting supplication – “Come and visit for few days.” When we feast on such foods in our loved ones honor, we are reminded that not only are we nourished by the food, but we were (and continue to be) nourished by the presence of those loved ones in our lives.
“The Secret to Marital Bliss,” AKA Spiced Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from the Bon Appetit recipe
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16oz can pumpkin
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp of each – cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda
½ tsp each – salt and baking powder
½ cup each – chopped walnuts and chopped dried dates
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9x5x3” loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Mix in walnuts and dates. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake until fork inserted into center come out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes.
This is one of our favorite recipes to usher in the autumn season. Eat one loaf immediately, wrap the other in aluminum foil and freeze for up to one month.
Kate is an educator, artist, gardener, and cook carrying on her family’s culinary history by following her nose. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay area. Her websites are Pen, Trowel, & Fork and Mozart’s Nose.