As a single girl, I get invited to dinner a lot around the holidays. I mean, a lot a lot. I learned early that it’s good manners to not show up empty handed. A small gift for the host/hostess is a nice way to show appreciation for the invitation and the dinner. But deciding on the right gift can be a challenge.
I stumbled upon a recipe for pumpkin spice bread when I was in high school, and over the years I’ve adjusted and tweaked it until I’ve made it my own. And along the way I learned that it can be made in various forms – muffins, full loaves, mini-bundts, and mini loaves. The mini loaves version is what I make most often because it lends itself very easily to gift giving. Not only do I give them as host/hostess gifts, but I also give them to the people in my life I’d like to show appreciation to: my pastor, people I work with, the barista at the local coffee shop who knows my regular order and has it half done before I even walk in the door.
Not that I’m a coffee addict. I can stop anytime I want to. I just don’t want to.
Here’s how I make it…
This recipe has a lot of ingredients, so I usually start by gathering them all. That way I can take inventory and won’t forget anything. (Not that I’ve done that before. Of course not.)
Now get your largest bowl. I mean it, your largest bowl. This recipe makes a LOT of batter. In your largest bowl (did I mention use your largest bowl?) mix the sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin until everything’s combined. You don’t need to use a mixer with this recipe. A good ol’ wooden spoon will work just fine.
Whisk the dry ingredients together so the spices and baking soda/powder are evenly combined in the flour.
Mix in the dry ingredients, and then the water. (This is where you’ll be glad you used your largest bowl.)
You can use any mini muffin tins available to you. I found these oven-safe paper versions at a local craft store. But there are also inexpensive ceramic varieties and metal options as well. Whichever option you choose, spray the inside with a little cooking spray – the kind that’s meant for baking.
Pour a cup of the batter into each mini loaf pan. Then divide the remaining batter evenly among the pans. Depending on the size of your pans, you may use more or less. These paper pans used about 1 ¼ cup batter each.
This recipe will make eight mini loaves, two full size loaves, 24 muffins, or 8-10 mini bundts.
Bake at 350 degrees uncovered on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, lay a big piece of foil over the pans. This will keep the top from getting too brown. Cook covered for another 20 minutes. At this point, start checking for doneness. The old “toothpick inserted in the center and comes out clean” trick works. But this is a very dense bread, so it takes a while to cook. And I’ve been fooled that it’s done when it really isn’t. So, I use the toothpick test AND the “touch the loaf in the center and if it springs back it’s done” technique.
Slather with a big ol’ dollop of whipped cream before eating. This photo is misleading. I did it to make myself not look like such a whipped cream hog. But who am I kidding? In real life I’d use three times as much whipped cream. So, I hereby give you my permission to go nuts with the whipped cream. Life is short.
If you’re giving these as gifts. Let them cool completely before placing them in plastic treat bags and tying with raffia or a pretty ribbon. And if you really like the recipient, include a can of whipped cream. Yum!
Here’s the complete recipe. Enjoy!
3 cups sugar
1 small can (16-oz) pumpkin
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 ground cinnamon
1 1/4 ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup water
1) In a large bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, pumpkin and oil until combined.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until combined.
3) Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until almost combined.
4) Add the water and continue to mix until incorporated.
5) Spoon into prepared loaf pans.
6) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
7) Cover with foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes. Start checking for doneness and continue baking for as long as necessary until done. (If you’re making these in other forms, like muffins, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.)