Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let the Traditions Begin

Mindy here. Can you believe it's November already? I am so glad we've moved beyond the record-setting heat of this summer. Cooler days have finally arrived. I can throw open the windows and let the fresh air permeate the house.

For me, November signifies the start of the holiday season. No, I'm not putting Christmas decorations up yet, but I have started making lists--gift ideas, recipes, events....

My official first holiday tradition is baking pumpkin bread. I mean a BIG batch. One that will yield me a dozen or so small loaves. Why so many? I'll get to that in a bit, but first I'll share my most favorite pumpkin bread recipe.

Here's what you'll need:

2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon molasses
6 cups sugar
12 eggs
2 cups orange juice
6 cups pumpkin puree (I use 2-29 oz. cans of pumpkin, straight pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling)
10 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
3 cups raisins or currants

In a VERY large bowl, cream butter, molasses, and sugar until light and fluffy. (Note: this batch is too large for a Kitchen Aid mixer. I use a hand mixer) Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat until light and lemon-colored. Add orange juice and pumpkin puree and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. Add to pumpkin mixture, stirring well with a wooden spoon (or whatever you might have, just lose the mixer at this point) to thoroughly combine all elements. Stir in raisins.

Spoon into buttered (I spray mine with Pam) loaf pans, whatever size you choose, and bake at 350 until toothpick inserted comes out clean. For large loaves this is about an hour. For smaller loaves, I usually start checking them after about 40 minutes and add time accordingly. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn onto racks to cool completely.

Once the loaves have cooled, I wrap them in plastic wrap, followed with a good layer of foil before I store them in the freezer. I don't know what it is about freezing them, but it makes them even more moist.

But why do I need so many? Gift giving. Hostess gift, teacher gift, you name it. I deliver loaves to neighbors and friends just before Thanksgiving. For a nice presentation, remove the foil only, and place plastic-wrapped loaf into a cellophane bag. Tie with raffia or a pretty ribbon and voila! And these stay fresh in the freezer for a good while, so you can even carry them over to Christmas time. Oh, but don't forget to save some for your own holiday table or even Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast. It's great for teatime too.

What are of some of your holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years) traditions?

Happy Tuesday, y'all.

6 comments:

  1. I've never made pumpkin bread - thanks for sharing your recipe Mindy!

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  2. It's really not that difficult, Eva. I'll stop short of Ruhty's "easy-peasy." :-) Be sure to let me know if you try it.

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  3. I've never made it either. Boy, that's a lot of stuff!! You need a really big bowl. But you know, it's something to try. Maybe this will be the year I'll make pumpkin bread. :)
    I guess I could always call if I'm having trouble huh?

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  4. I'm just a phone call away, Lindi. I can walk you through it.

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  5. Mindy, this sounds so good. And easy! I think I'll try and make it this holiday. And I like the idea to use it for gifts :)

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