As soon as fall rolls around each year, everywhere you turn you see pumpkin recipes. I resisted starting any fall baking until just this past week but I finally gave in when I started craving pumpkin bread. Pumpkin, one of my favorite varieties of winter squash, is rich in potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. and is wonderful roasted, used in soups or stews, or mixed with other vegetables.
I love pumpkin in just about any dish, whether it is sweet or savory, but when I’m in Italy there is no such thing as canned pumpkin, so I always must roast my own. Pumpkin in Italy is often sold in wedges or you can buy whole small pumpkins (called zucca).
To roast my pumpkin, I simply peel it, remove the seeds and cut it into 2 inch pieces. I roast it in my oven that is preheated to 425 degrees F, for about 30 minutes or until it is fork tender. I find that by cutting the pumpkin into pieces before I roast it, the excess water is drawn out during the cooking process so the final pureed pumpkin is thicker.
When buying pumpkin, look for firm squash that feels heavy for its size. Rinds should have a dull sheen and be intact and hard. Slight variations in color are not important. If the stem is still attached, it should be rounded and dry, not shriveled, blackened or moist. Do not buy squash that is soft or has a cracked, watery, decayed or shiny rind.
Of course if you aren’t interested in roasting fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin works just fine. Do use canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling which is already sweetened and flavored with spices.
This pumpkin bread is moist, tender, and has just the perfect amount of spice. I added chopped walnuts on top for texture, but if you are not a nut fan, simply do not add them. To make this recipe healthier, I used applesauce for half the oil, and replaced white flour with farro flour.
I buy my farro flour, both the light and whole grain varieties, in health food stores in Italy. In the US I usually find it in health food stores, the organic section of grocery stores, or at Whole Foods. You can use either white wheat flour, or farro flour in this recipe. This recipe makes two 8 x 4 inch loaves, and freezes well, so I freeze one to enjoy later.
- 1 1/2 Cups Light Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Applesauce
- 4 Eggs
- 1 3/4 Cups Roasted Pureed Pumpkin or 1 (15 Ounce) Can (See Notes Above)
- 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
- 3 Cups Light Farro Flour (Or White Wheat Flour)
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts (Optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the oil, applesauce, and sugar together until blended.
- Add the eggs, one at a time.
- Add the pumpkin puree and milk, and beat until blended.
- Whisk together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Add the dry ingredients and blend just until mixed.
- Divide the batter between the two baking pans.
- Mix together the sugar, walnut, and cinnamon topping, and sprinkle over the top of each loaf.
- Bake the loaves for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and cool 15 minutes.
- Remove from the pans, place on a wire rack, and continue to cool to room temperature before slicing.