I’m super excited to introduce Saucy Mommy’s first guest blogger, my awesome friend Ann (yes, of monkey bread fame), who is a fellow mom of two young boys. I got to know Ann through a message board for moms of babies born in July 2007 (the month in which my older son and her younger one, both named Jackson, were born). We became close, and when she and her wonderful husband, Erik, vacationed in California last year, I persuaded them to spend a few days with us. Ann and I clicked just as well in person as we did on screen. Since then, she’s visited me one other time (we’ve also had the pleasure of hosting Erik for a weekend when he was out here for work), and I eagerly anticipate visiting her in South Carolina someday soon.
Because she’s far too humble to talk herself up, I’ll tell you a few things about Ann. She is kind, caring, endlessly patient (she’s a nurse, and I can’t count how many times I’ve texted or emailed her with an URGENT question like, “Jack has a rash on his arm! Do you think it’s flesh-eating disease?”), hilarious and a really, really cool mom. I mean, she’s dressing up as DJ Lance from Yo Gabba Gabba for Halloween. If that doesn’t win the “Coolest Mom of the Year” award, I don’t know what does. I don’t even have a costume planned. Ann is also a wonderful artist, a talented gardener (she grows beautiful flowers and makes these breathtaking miniature gardens, where she creates a gorgeous scene — a stream running through the woods, say, or people relaxing in a rose garden — from plants, rocks and props half the size of your pinky nail), and, oh yeah, she has the kind of hair I’ve always wanted (naturally wavy!). As if those things weren’t enough, apparently, she also makes a mean pumpkin bread.
Earlier this week, our mutual friend Kristen mentioned on Facebook that she made a gluten-free version of Ann’s to-die-for pumpkin bread. I immediately begged Ann to email me the original recipe because a) I love pumpkin bread, and b) canned pumpkin is finally available at my local stores, and I’m dying to have a chance to buy it so I can feel like fall has finally arrived. Good friend that she is, Ann sent it to me, but with caveats about how the finished bread should still be a little wet in the center, but not too wet, and how toothpicks inserted into the bread should come out with just the right amount of goo on them. After we spent at least two emails swapping jokes about wet spots and goo-covered sticks (somewhere in each of us lives an 11-year-old boy’s sense of humor), I asked Ann if she would guest post about this bread. Selfishly, I wanted to follow her step-by-step instructions when I made the bread, but I also thought readers of this blog would enjoy a refreshing new voice. Fortunately for all of us, she agreed. So, without further ado, I give the screen to Ann!
First of all, a big thank you to Beverly for that wonderful introduction (no idea who you were actually describing, but she sounds AWESOME!) and for letting me share this recipe! Second, shame on you for only admitting to two immature emails about goo and wet spots. (It was eight.) Don’t be shy; you should be proud of your immaturity! Own it! It truly knows no bounds. I’m kidding. Mostly. Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys this yummy bread!
This recipe comes from a falling-apart, spiral-bound cookbook that has been in my family since the 70s. The well-used book probably contains more food particles in it than paper. I’m sure the other recipes in it are perfectly good, but I wouldn’t know because ever since it has been in my possession, whether on the bookshelf or not, it has been opened to this one page–the Pumpkin Bread page. It’s one of those small-town cookbooks where folks would submit recipes and the books would be sold to benefit the local private school. Sometimes there are helpful notes or comments with the recipes; the comment that sits below the humble, understated title “Pumpkin Bread II” is, “Warning: People always want the recipe for this!” And people certainly do. It makes 2 regular sized loaves–one to devour and one to give away, if you can bear to part with it. It is perfect for the holidays!
3 1/2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups mashed pumpkin (or 1 small can)
Sift together dry ingredients. Make a well in center, then add remaining ingredients. Mix well (we use a hand mixer), and divide into bread pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until done.
NOW. You’ve waited an hour. Your house smells awesome. Everyone within a two-block radius of you is drooling and possibly mindlessly staggering toward your house. But if you think you can just take these out of the oven and pat yourself on the back for a job well done, think again. This is the tricky part. The most important part. And it stresses me out every time. You canNOT overcook this bread even the slightest bit or it will be absolutely inedible. No amount of butter or whatever you decide to slather on it will help. OK, so you’ve got your toothpicks, right? You’re not going for clean toothpicks. This ain’t cornbread, people. This bread is at its finest when it is just the right amount of under-done.
I like it best when it’s buttered and warm. If it needs to be warmed up the next day (if it’s still around), 10 seconds in the microwave is plenty.
Thank you, Ann, for sharing this perfect autumn recipe with us. As soon as I stop attempting to eat my laptop monitor, I’m going to go buy the ingredients. I’m planning to bake it this weekend and bring a loaf to Johnny’s cousin, who just had a baby girl (wow, seriously, is there a baby boom or what?!). Let’s hope Johnny, the boys and I have enough restraint to actually have a loaf left to give!