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Grandma Jacobs’ Pumpkin Bread

July 29, 2013


I think I’ve mentioned before that when Joe and I got married his mom passed along to us a recipe binder full of heritage recipes from Joe’s great-grandma Jacobs’. I’m a huge fan of old recipes, since I think they have so much to teach us about cooking before it became all complicated and fussy and, most importantly, before it became the cool thing to do. It’s hard for me to remember a time when cooking wasn’t flashy and fashionable and splashed on the television as a form of entertainment. Sometimes it’s nice to think about food in simple terms, isn’t it? As a means of fuel and a way to connect with others. Plus, a lot of the recipes I’ve made that were passed from generation to generation are much better than anything you will find in a magazine today.

That said, please don’t kill me for sharing a pumpkin recipe in July. Sure, I love pumpkin during the fall as much as the next person, maybe even a little more. But I don’t intend to rush into fall flavors full time just yet. However, last weekend we had some crazy unseasonable weather with temps that were in the 50’s and 60’s, which left me craving pumpkin bread in a major way. And since Grandma Jacobs’ book had a recipe that was simple and straightforward, I couldn’t resist.


I know a lot of people, myself included, are on the continual search for a classic banana or pumpkin bread recipe. If you’ve tried other recipes in the past and been disappointed, this is the recipe for you. I’ve been disappointed by many a pumpkin bread recipes, but this one totally delivered on the flavor and texture I was looking for. It’s not overly spiced, and has plenty of bright pumpkin flavor. And the texture is spot on. It’s moist without being soggy and the top isn’t dry like other recipes I’ve tried.

The real key to getting that semi-sticky top is to store this bread wrapped in aluminum foil on the counter. Bake it at night, wrap it up after it has cooled, and wake up to the pumpkin bread of your dreams.


Grandma Jacobs’ Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves
The original recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar. When I first saw that, it seemed like a lot of sugar for two loaves, so I cut it back to 2 cups and the recipe turned out great. The bread was pleasantly sweet but not sweet like cake/dessert. If you are looking for a sweeter and more decadent bread, I would strongly suggest going for 2 1/2 to 3 cups of sugar.
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 to 3 cups sugar (see note above)
1 cup oil
4 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 cup chopped nuts (optional – I left them out)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until well combined. Add in the sugar, oil, eggs, water and pumpkin and stir until just combined. Stir in the nuts, if desired.

Line two 9×5-inch baking pans with aluminum foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Divide batter between two pans. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on wire rack. remove from pan and remove foil. Cool completely. Store on the counter wrapped in aluminum foil.

Happy Baking!


Chocolate-Pumpkin Pie (aka Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie)

October 15, 2012

Today, my friends, was the ultimate relaxing Sunday. In fact, Joe and I had an entire weekend full of relaxation, which was exactly what the doctor ordered. Both of us seem to be coming down with a bit of a head cold, and it was incredibly rainy/stormy for most of the weekend, giving us an excuse to do very little other than watch football, bake (things like this Chocolate Pumpkin Pie) and run some errands that have been on the to-do list for quite a while.

Another exciting development? Grinnell got a new restaurant this week. Joe and I have eagerly been awaiting the opening of Prairie Canary in our small town, since the owner is known around Des Moines for being quite the restauranteur. We swung by for brunch on Sunday, and although there were a few kinks to be worked out in the service department (understandable for it only being the third day open) the food did not disappoint. There were a bunch of vegetarian options (I had the tofu curry scramble) as well as options to please my meat eating husband (bacon and eggs, anyone?) If you’re in the Des Moines area, I think it’s worth the trip to Grinnell for dinner some night.

And that baking I did? Well, in addition to my weekly double batch of bran muffins, I also baked this Chocolate-Pumpkin Pie. Since we’re halfway through October, I thought it was high time to make some version of my favorite pie. Last year, it was Caramel Pumpkin Pie, and this year’s twist came from chocolate.

Pumpkin and chocolate have long been one of my favorite combos, and adding a little bit of melted semi-sweet chocolate to the custard base gave the filling an extra smooth texture and sweet, creamy flavor. Joe said this was the best pumpkin pie he’s ever had and likened it to a Pumpkin Spice Latte in pie form. Sounds like a ringing endorsement if you ask me!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Crust from Desserts By The Yard by Sheri Yard
*2 1/2 cups flour
*2 tablespoons sugar
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
*16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces
*1/2 cup ice water
*6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
*4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
*15 ounces (1 can) pumpkin puree
*1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
*3 large eggs
*3/4 cup brown sugar
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 tablespoon corn starch
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 cup milk chocolate chips, melted (can substitute semi-sweet if desired)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse with on-off turns until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Combine the vinegar and ice water. Slowly add the ice water to the flour-butter mixture and pulse with on-ff turns until the mixture just comes together. Divide into two portions and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
*Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and chocolate chips. Melt, stirring frequently, until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
*In a second bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the milk chocolate chips. Stir until well combined and smooth. Add the chocolate-butter mixture to the pumpkin mixture, stirring until smooth and well combined.
*Remove one of the dough portions from the fridge. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface into a 1/4-inch thick circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges with your fingers. Pour the filling mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is still slightly jiggly. Cool for 30 minutes on wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Before serving, drizzle with the melted milk chocolate. Makes 8 servings

Happy Baking!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cupcakes with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

March 19, 2012

Happy Sunday, friends! How have your weekends gone thus far? Besides watching my March Madness bracket get torn to shreds, our weekend has been pretty relaxing and blissful.

I’m gearing up for a pretty crazy week, which I’ll fill you in about later. So before things get busy, let’s finish the weekend up with cupcakes, shall we? Most of the time I avoid doing any serious baking unless I know that I’ll have a place to bring the baked goods I make. I mean, do two people really need an entire cake sitting around, begging to be eaten? I would argue no.

Thankfully Christina over at Dessert For Two has those of us baking for two covered. Christina has made a wonderful blog based on scaled-back desserts that taste just as delicious as their larger counterparts, so when a craving for cupcakes hit a while back, I knew where to go. Of course, I couldn’t help but tweak the recipe to make it a little healthier – swapping out whole wheat flour for all-purpose and cutting back a bit on the sugar. Since I made the ‘cream cheese’ frosting vegan, I also included an option to make the cupcakes vegan as well. Though in my version (pictured above) real eggs were used.

And while I know that pumpkin desserts don’t exactly go hand in hand with the month of March, I’m guessing a few of you out there have some leftover canned pumpkin that could stand to be used before summer hits. Not that I’m saying you need a reason to eat canned pumpkin. Personally, I could eat it all year round.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cupcakes
Adapted slightly from Dessert for Two
*7 tablespoons whole wheat flour
*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*1/8 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ginger
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1 large egg (make this recipe vegan by substituting a flax egg: 1 Tbsp. ground flax and 3 Tbsp. water mixed together)
*1/2 cup pumpkin puree
*2 tablespoons brown sugar
*2 packets stevia
*3 tablespoons vegetable oil

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with four paper liners. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
*In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
*In a second bowl, combined the egg, brown sugar, stevia and oil. Stir to combine.
*Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 24 to 26 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost completely clean (small crumbs are okay). Cool completely. Frost with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting. Makes 4 servings

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
*2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (I use Trader Joe’s Non-Dairy Spread)
*1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
*2/3 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar

*In a small bowl, combine all the above ingredients. Stir until well combined and smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if necessary to reach desired consistency (if you aren’t using vegan cream cheese, you may need to add a splash or two of milk). Spread atop cupcakes.

Happy Baking!

Healthier Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

November 17, 2011

I promise that once Thanksgiving has come and gone, I will return to posting things that aren’t filled with pumpkin. But my love for the stuff is still going strong, and I intend to keep baking with pumpkin until Turkey day arrives.

Last weekend I spent a little time scouring magazines looking for recipes for our family Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you all, but on Thanksgiving I prefer to indulge responsibly. There is nothing I hate more than the “oh my gosh I feel so full I want to die” feeling. It’s really less about calorie consumption and more about how I feel after eating a huge meal and the days following. Also known as Thanksgiving hangover.

When I spotted a recipe for Pumpkin-Almond Cheesecake in Cooking Light’s November issue, I knew I had to give it a try. Instead of making the almond cake that was intended as the bottom layer, I used a crispy graham cracker crust and poured the lightened up cheesecake mixture atop.

I was expecting to be a bit underwhelmed by the dessert when I threw in a block of low-fat cream cheese, Greek yogurt and very little sugar. But to my surprise and delight it was awesome. Smooth, rich-tasting and lightly sweet, Joey and I both ate a piece without feeling stuffed afterward. Things only got better when I calculated the nutrition information for the bars and found that when you make it into 12 servings, each serving only has around 190 calories. Not an ultra low-calorie dessert, but hardly a gut-busting indulgence, either.

Healthier Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine
For Crust:
*1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
*2 tablespoons sugar
*3 tablespoons butter, melted

For Filling:
*8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
*1/2 cup sugar
*3 large eggs
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
*1/3 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*Preheat oven to 300°F. In a small bowl, combine the crust ingredients until well combined. Press the crust mixture evenly into an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Set aside.
*In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Add in the vanilla, pumpkin, Greek yogurt and cinnamon and beat until smooth and incorporated.
*Pour filling mixture into prepared crust pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Cool completely on a wire rack. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours. Makes 12 servings

Approximate Calories per serving: 190

Happy Baking!


Caramel Pumpkin Pie

November 7, 2011

This weekend Joey and I got together with a group of young couples at our church on Saturday night to share what we are thankful for, what God is doing in our lives and eat pie. Pretty awesome, right?

Since we are still pretty new to our town and church, I knew I couldn’t bring just any old pie. I needed a pie that pulled out all the stops. And when I want a recipe that is sure to impress and go above and beyond without being complicated or overly fussy, I go to Gourmet Today. It a monster of a cookbook, coming in at just over 1,000 pages, and one that I’m realizing I don’t use nearly enough.

But before you think that this pie is just like a hundred other pumpkin pies, let me assure you it isn’t. The sugar and water are cooked until the mixture caramelizes, then gets infused with a hefty dose of heavy cream and spices that are substantial but not overpowering.

Edited on Monday to Add: The pie was a hit! There was only one slice left, and Joey took that problem off my hands on the way home from church.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie
Adapted slightly from Gourmet Today

*1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
*4 tablespoons butter, melted
*3 tablespoons sugar
*1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*2/3 cup sugar
*1/4 cup water
*1 1/2 cups heavy cream
*1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
*1 teaspoon ground ginger
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*3 large eggs, lightly beaten

*Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and ground cinnamon until well combine. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch pie plate and press into the plate and up the sides to form a shell. Set aside.
*In a large heavy saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, washing down sides of pan occasionally with a pastry brush dipped in cold water and gently swirling pan for even cooking until mixture is a deep golden carmel, about 10 minutes.
*Reduce heat to moderate and carefully add half of the cream (mixture will bubble vigorously), stirring until caramel is dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in remaining crema and bring just to a simmer. Remove from heat.
*Whisk together pumpkin, spices and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in hot cream mixutre, then eggs, whisking until well combined and smooth.
*Pour filling into prepared pie shell. Bake until filling is firm and just slightly wiggles in the center when the pie plate is touched, about 40 minutes.
*Cool pie compltely on a rack, about 2 hours.

Happy Baking!

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