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Teresa Hatchell 2005

With the extremely blustery days that ushered October "out" and brought November "in," cooks everywhere are no doubt thinking about how they can warm up their homes by baking some special treats. I know that I enjoy baking much more in autumn and winter than in summer. On a recent visit to someone who had been in the hospital, I gifted my dear friend with a large pecan pie. A few of her children and grandchildren were there when I arrived, and they all thanked me because they are pecan pie fans. The family was surprised when I told them that the pie was actually baked with pecans my recuperating friend had given me last year. Actually, she gave me two half-gallon zip lock bags of perfectly shelled halves. As you may imagine, that was an awesome birthday gift to me! I kept them in the coldest drawer in my fridge, used them bit by bit, and they stayed just as fresh as the day she gave them to me. As we were talking about the pecans, several of us commented that pumpkin pie is another taste-bud pleaser during the holiday season.

Driving to my humble abode, I thought of the pumpkin pie recipe my mom used year after year when we were growing up. When I arrived at my home, I immediately looked through my somewhat cluttered desk to find the recipe. And, because I so crave pumpkin bread with a warm cup of decaf coffee or warm tea this time of year, I am offering my favorite recipe for that. I urge you all to try both of these excellent recipes. They will make your November and December so much more enjoyable.

Traditional, delicious

pumpkin pie

9-inch unbaked deep-dish pie crust

3/4 cup white sugar

1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 eggs, room temperature

15-ounce can Libby's Pure Pumpkin

12-fluid ounce can Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl. Stir in the pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk. Pour this mixture into the pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about two hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. (DO NOT freeze.)

Pumpkin bread

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

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1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup of flour, the brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and ginger. Add pumpkin, milk, eggs, and shortening. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until blended, then on high speed for two minutes. Add the remaining flour and beat well. To transform dinner bread into dessert bread, stir in the nuts and raisins. Pour the batter into a greased 9x5x3-inch-loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove the bread from the pan and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing (or before freezing).

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