A Coven's Favorite Pumpkin Bread

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We all have that one cake recipe we make a million times, and for several of us here at the Attic, that cake recipe is Deb Perelman's Pumpkin Bread. Lee turned us onto it two years ago, and let's just say we all liked the pumpkin bread so much that it became an immediate staple.

I made the recipe no fewer than nine times in 2016. From October to December, it made it from weekend brunches to post-Election Night comfort cake to pre-Christmas tea and cheered up everyone I know, from my family to my husband’s supervisor. It’s become a classic in my kitchen since then. It's easy to make, moist and crunchy at the same time... and just the right amount of sweet.

I have, however, made a few small changes to the recipe over time. I don't have easy access to canned pumpkin in Switzerland and the kind that I find most easily holds 4 cups of pumpkin rather than the standard 1 3/4 cups. I consequently tend to use 2 cups of pumpkin instead of the recommended amount. (Though the American Market seems to have mixed up their offering this year and is only selling pumpkin pie mix in that big size, which is not what I want.) I also find that using 2 eggs instead of 3 works well, and I up the quantity of cinnamon. I also sometimes make the cake with olive oil instead of butter.

Because of the aforementioned difficulty accessing canned pumpkin, I have tried making this with fresh pumpkin. I don't know what it is with Swiss pumpkins, but they seem to be a bit more watery than standard American pumpkins, and as a result, my cake exploded every time I’ve made it that way. I probably need to drain it after I purée it, but that’ll be an adventure for another time.

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Pumpkin Bread (Adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen recipe)

1 15-ounce (1 3/4 cup) can (425g) of pumpkin purée or 2 cups (475ml) pumpkin purée – the extra pumpkin will only make it more moist

1/2 cup (120ml) melted butter or olive oil

2 eggs

1 and 2/3 cups (330g) sugar or cut it down to 1 cup or anywhere in between if, like me, you don’t always like things to be as sweet (the amount of sugar I use in this recipe depends on my mood)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda (yes you need both)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (the recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon but I love cinnamon and go wild)

heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

a pinch or two of ground cloves (this you don’t want to go wild with)

2 and 1/4 cups (295g) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350°F/175°C and grease your biggest loaf pan. (If you’re making it in a disposable paper loaf pan like I did this time because I was planning on transporting the cake, then double up. This cake expands and I’ve had it burst before.)

This is a one-bowl recipe so make sure you get out your biggest mixing bowl. Once you have, mix the puréed pumpkin and butter or oil together and bask in the smell for a minute. You won’t regret it. Then add the sugar and eggs. Whisk in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all of the spices. Bask in the smell a bit more.

Add the flour a half cup at a time. This recipe calls for a lot of flour, so I like to mix it in in batches to give my arm less of a work out. Once mixed together and you have no pockets of flour left, scrape it into your loaf pan.

If you want a crispy, cinnamon-sugary top to your cake, then in a small bowl, mix the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the remaining cinnamon together and then sprinkle over the top of your batter. I love this step, but my grandmother begs me to skip it because she thinks it makes the cake too sugary. It’s a beautiful cake either way, but I say go for it.

Bake for 65 to 75 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Definitely check in at 65 minutes, and if the top is crisp but the inside isn’t as cooked as you like (keep in mind this is a moist cake!), then cover the top with aluminium foil to keep it from burning.

Allow it to cool and eat it with everything until you have no more cake left!

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