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Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread

Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread by SeasonWithSpice.com

We pulled over and buckled up the pumpkin in the backseat.  It had been rolling around, bonking into the car door, as we sped down a windy country road.  That alarming, head-hitting sound brought terrible memories of a summer past.

One of our garden watermelons, a gift for an aunt we were on our way to visit, had been helpless on the backseat floor as we took an unexpected curve too fast.  We drove on, oblivious to the silence. Then miles later, a sweet, appetizing smell perfumed the car.  I loosened my seatbelt and anxiously peered into the back.  The floor mat was stained red.  The watermelon lay motionless, cracked in two, its seeds scattered.  A victim of careless driving.

It took a watermelon to save a pumpkin.

Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread by SeasonWithSpice.com

But like a Minnesota autumn, the life of a pumpkin is short-lived.

This particular pumpkin was sliced and gutted that night, and baked into a deliciously moist Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread.

Pumpkin Bread recipe made with sunflower oil, greek yogurt and spices cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg

The key to making moist, but not overly rich pumpkin bread, is all in the oil.

During a recent visit to a nearby farmers’ market, I was introduced to a new, but already well known Minnesota sunflower seed oil company called Smude’s.  Their healthy, neutral tasting, cold-pressed oil is great for baking as I found out when my Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread turned out so well, with a perfect texture and without the dominating after taste that butter and other vegetable oils can produce. 

With a neutral tasting oil, the pumpkin bread will taste like it should – sweet pumpkin spiced with all those wonderful flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

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Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread by Season with Spice
Makes one loaf

Ingredients: 
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of Season with Spice's Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Season with Spice's ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp of Season with Spice's ground ginger
3/4 cup light brown sugar (or slightly less)
1/2 cup cold pressed virgin sunflower oil (or other light tasting oil like grapeseed oil)
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree*
2/3 cup yogurt (I used Greek yogurt & a bit of milk)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (and more for toppings)

Method: 
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, and spices.
3. In another large bowl, beat sugar and oil. Then mix in eggs, mashed pumpkin, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Combine with the dry ingredients. Then stir in the chopped pecans.
4. Bake until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean – should take about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Then transfer to a rack and allow to cool for ten minutes. Finally, slide bread out from pan and allow to cool completely.

*To make your own pumpkin purée: 
Cut a small pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Remove the hard stem. Then place both halves on a baking pan, open end up. Place the pan in the oven and pour a little water into the pan to prevent the bottom of the pumpkin halves from burning.

Bake at 350°F until soft – about 45 minutes to an hour. Allow the pumpkin halves to cool before scooping out the flesh. You can then use a blender to make a smooth pumpkin puree, but I prefer to just mash the cooked pumpkin with a fork to retain some chunkiness, in order to add texture and color to the bread.

Notes: 
- Use a small to medium sized sugar pumpkin for baking. Choose one that feels dense, heavy, and not hollow.
- Place the loaf pan on a lower rack of the oven to prevent the pecans from burning.
- Have fun with the spices, and use your favorite fall baking combination!

Pumpkin loaf recipe with fall spices