Pumpkin carving is a tradition worth having and when you are done, you can turn your handiwork into something worth eating. So long soggy pumpkin bread that’s decidedly un-pumpkiny. I’ve figured out how to bake pumpkin into the kind of bread that would make even the scariest Halloween pumpkin smile.
This Halloween, like so much of this year, is a one-off. How are you handling it? Thanks to the pandemic, we’ll all be masked. Going out without one is what’s really scary. I’m still not sure what to do about trick or treaters. Stand in the doorway and slingshot candy at the kids from a safe social distance?
I love Halloween. I don’t go for elaborate, spooky decorations like many neighbors do, but carving a jack o’ lantern — albeit poorly — is a tradition. It began as a father-daughter thing when I was a little girl, and I’ve refused to let go of it. My carving artistry hasn’t improved over the years. I don’t care. It’s the doing that matters.
I foisted carving jack o’ lanterns on our niece. As a little girl, she shrieked and balked at sticking her hand inside the pumpkin to scoop out the yuck, the guts, the slimy strings and seeds. This part is essential. It is a coming to terms with your jack o’ lantern, acceptance, solidarity. It shows that you’re not just in it for a little fun; you’re there to do the work. It’s about respecting your pumpkin.
Our niece is now 16. Therefore, she balks at everything. That’s her right as a teenager. It’s in the handbook — look it up. It’s my right as an adult to indulge in a ridiculous Halloween custom. I love assessing and choosing my pumpkin, getting up to my elbow in its sweet-smelling yuck, admiring the jack lantern’s face as it emerges from under the knife. I love lighting it and enjoying the golden glow from its eyes and snaggle-toothed grin. I even love when it starts to decay, turning soft and fuzzy, which happens mighty fast in Miami. Pitching the pumpkin into the compost is part of the process, too, marking the end of another holiday ritual.
Maybe I love it because it’s ritual because it’s continuity, something normal to hold on to in this most abnormal time. What holiday traditions matter to you? Carve out a way to keep them alive any way you can. May your holiday be like my ideal Halloween pumpkin — seasonal, sweet, golden and enjoyed with everyone you love.
Even if you’re not into carving pumpkins, they sure do make some tasty treats. Pumpkin bread is a delicious use, but sometimes the flavor of the pumpkin gets lost. In this recipe, it’s baked into the kind of bread to make a pumpkin proud.
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin homemade and fresh or canned*
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/3 cup vegan butter
- 1 cup evaporated cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons aquafaba
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil loaf pan 9 X 5 loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Set aside.
- In a smaller separate bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, orange juice, aquafaba and molasses.
- In another large bowl, beat vegan butter and sugar until light. Add about half the flour and spice mixture, then stir in half the pumpkin mixture. Repeat with the remaining flour and pumpkin. Keep it light. Stir in the raisins.
- Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until fragrant and firm. It should spring back with a gentle poke.
- This is a fine-textured bread that slices well, keeps several days and is good with anything.