My littlest guy is such a shrimp. In a pre-K class of 12 students, he’s the tiniest one. But I don’t think he knows it. The situation likely seems normal to him, given his position as the youngest child in our family. He’s a little body with a big noggin, full-moon eyes, and a smile that could swallow your sorrows whole. More than that, the kid has swagger. It’s not just that he wishes he could keep up with the big kids: he thinks he is one of the big kids. When I take the crew to school in the morning, as we walk through the hallways, the older kids greet him by name, one after the other. One morning a couple weeks ago, after an older boy said hello to him, I said, “Who was that?” And he said, “Never seen him before in my life.”
He’ll challenge absolutely anyone to a wrestling match (sometimes I have to rescue his siblings from him when he has them pinned) or a race (and you should see him motor!) or an eating contest. No one will even take him up on this last point. Especially if the meal in question is breakfast and especially if the breakfast in question is cinnamon toast (or waffles or french toast or anything that one can douse with syrup), he can eat the others right under the able. A few weeks ago, having polished off four slices of cinnamon toast to his older brother’s one slice, he bumped his chest meaningfully against his big brother’s, poked his finger into his big brother’s breastbone, and said, “Who’s the most eater now?”
The most eater, indeed.
Probably, these anecdotes would serve as a logical lead-in to a recipe for cinnamon toast–You know how to make it, I’m sure: slice of bread + softened salted butter + generous sprinkle of sugar + generous sprinkle of cinnamon, popped under the broiler until it is golden brown and crunchy, virtually bruleed, really, until your own most eater wants to eat several slices of it every day–but that’s not where I’m heading here. My little guy is the “most eater,” and the recipe I’m fixing to share is “powerfully pumpkin.” When you combine a most eater with some powerfully pumpkin bread, fantastic and borderline ungrammatical things happen. Adverbs modify nouns and most eaters join forces with non-eaters and a loaf of bread tastes so much like cake that you might consider frosting it if you weren’t afraid to strip it of its powerfully pumpkin-ness.
Ah, this bread is good stuff. My husband loves it so much he asks for it all year long–and I tell him to chill out because I’m plain old NOT making pumpkin bread in April…or June…or August, for that matter. Those months all have their own special culinary territory, and pumpkin bread belongs soundly in the realm of the crepuscular, the land of waning and cooling and packing away.
This recipe is based on the one my mother has always used except that I’ve added a lot more pumpkin and more spice, increasing the moisture, the flavor, and the overall awesomeness of the recipe in the process. I tinkered with it once by accident when I wondered whether “1 can” meant a little can or a big can and opted to try something in between. We’ve never looked back.
When you see the quantity of sugar in this recipe, be not afraid. The recipe makes two good-sized loaves and a dozen muffins–enough to eat and eat and freeze or share–so you’ll be spreading the granulated love.
Powerfully Pumpkin Bread
3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (That’s a big can minus 1/2 cup)
1 cup oil
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2/3 cup water
1. Combine the sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and oil in a large bowl and beat the blue blazes out of it.
2. My mom’s recipe says to sift the dry ingredients together and then add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients alternately with water. Poo. That sounds like such a hassle. I just dump all of the dry ingredients right into the wet ones.
3. Once it’s well mixed, add the water and mix again. When you’re done, it will look like this.
4. Pour the batter into two greased and floured loaf pans and one dozen muffin tins. (The size of loaf pans varies a good bit, so maybe you can fit all of your batter into your loaf pans, but be careful: They will rise a bunch. You don’t want to overflow them. When in doubt, make muffins. That’s what I always say.)
5. Bake in a 350-degree oven. The loaves will take between 75 and 90 minutes. The muffins will take about 20 minutes.
Now what are you going to do with that leftover 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree? This is the diabolically genius idea I came up with in order to make use of my leftover pumpkin…Would be such a shame to waste the lovely stuff:
Pumpkin. Creme. Brulee. (So obvious, eh?) Follow my directions from my previous creme brulee recipe, but use these ingredients: