There haven’t been a lot of recipes appearing in this space lately, have there? It’s not because I’m not cooking. I am. But how do blogging mamas find adequate time to test a recipe and measure ingredients and take thoughtful photos and write an interesting story and get it posted before that dish goes completely out of season? I haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet.
But this one is easy. This pumpkin gingerbread is a slightly modified version of one I’ve made many times before, and it’s a good one. No testing needed. And to take photos, I just put Theo in front of the Christmas tree and gave him a piece to eat. That kept him busy while I snapped away, and I get to see his cute, messy face in the photos and have one more memory of his first Christmas.
It’s probably not surprising to anyone that I’m a pretty sentimental person who treasures holiday traditions. Growing up, Christmas at our home always felt like an authentic version of a Norman Rockwell painting, complete with a huge Christmas tree decorated with vintage ornaments, carols playing on the stereo, a fire burning in the hearth, and the smell of pies baking wafting through the house. It was magic.
Now with Theo, I’m thinking a lot about our family traditions, and how to create that same magic for him, even if it looks a little different than it did for me, growing up in Kentucky. When Elie was a child, they went to Hawaii every year for Christmas, so right now we are in Maui, enjoying sunshine and getting such joy from watching Theo delight at playing in the water. We’ll return right before Christmas to start cooking and baking and sitting in front of the tree we decorated before we left. I’ve talked about this before, but little by little, Elie and I are working on finding ways to combine our family traditions and beliefs into ones that are meaningful for our little family.
Deciding how to teach Theo the Christmas story and deciding whether or not Santa will visit our home are beliefs and traditions we’re still working on, but the food part is easy. We’ll start with baking. And having some sort of pumpkin bread always sitting on the counter, ready to be sliced, is one tradition I remember from growing up.
Theo loves anything he can eat himself. This past month, he learned how to feed himself, and so he quickly decided that he only likes to eat things he can eat himself. That means no more fruit and vegetable purees, so I have to get creative on how to get him to eat fruits and vegetables that are small and soft enough for him to chew. Putting them in bread helps. With this pumpkin bread, I replaced the white flour with whole grain, replaced vegetable oil with olive oil, added yogurt for extra protein and tenderness, and then the pumpkin adds flavor and moisture.
This recipe makes two loaves, so you can keep one for your family and give one away to friends. Fragrant with warm spices and spiked with molasses, it’s a wonderful holiday bread, good for breakfast, a snack or a little something sweet after dinner. And it’s one good start to our holiday traditions.
- Butter, for greasing pans
- 3 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
- ½ cup blackstrap molasses
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup water
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans with butter.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
- In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and rest of the wet ingredients (olive oil through pumpkin puree).
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and fold together until completely combined. Pour the batter evenly into the loaf pans.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife or skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Set the pans on a rack and let the bread cool in the pans for about 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the loaf pans and place the bread on the rack to cool completely.