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Yay for Fall: Pumpkin Spice Bread

I'm not much of a baker during the summertime. For some reason, peach cobbler and blueberry pie don't really appeal to me. But when the weather changes and there's a chill in the air, I start to get the urge to make pumpkin quick bread, pumpkin crème brûlée, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pancakes...and the occasional cranberry tart.

This recipe comes from the Sunset Magazine Recipe Annual, 1989 edition. I've been making it every fall for more than 15 years. The only change I've made to the original recipe is to increase the apricots from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup. It's easy to assemble and has a lovely flavor. Like most quick breads, it has a soft crumb and falls apart easily if you try to slice it while it's still warm from the oven. Serve it as is, or with butter or cream cheese.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 50 to 60 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf, approximately 2 1/2 pounds

2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, and ground ginger
1/2 cup each chopped walnuts and chopped dates
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin, oil, and orange juice with a handheld mixer or a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine flour with baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Add to egg mixture and beat to blend. Stir in nuts, dates, and apricots. Pour into the loaf pan and smooth out the top.

Bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (start checking at 50 minutes). Cool 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert bread onto a plate or a cooling rack. Let cool completely before attempting to slice. To serve warm, heat slices briefly in microwave or toaster oven.



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