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Monday, October 29, 2012

It's the Great Pumpkin...

"I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween." ~Author Unknown
© Charles Schulz
   When I was little I loved Charlie Brown cartoons--and I still do! I fell in love with Linus' unwavering belief in the annual appearance of the Great Pumpkin; as I grew older I appreciated the subtle poke at all the other holidays which have children and adults alike believing in things which do not line up with cold, hard facts, common sense, the scientific method, or adult perceptions of the unvarnished world.
   One thing is for sure, no what you believe, pumpkins make great eating. While I will eat pumpkin pie, my favorite use for the large orange squash is Pumpkin bread and I like it year 'round. It is a favorite served for tea.
   Now I include this disclaimer on behalf of Dear Sir who chides me for calling this a bread recipe. After tasting it he said, "I don't know why you call it bread--this is cake!"
   In the States we delineate between long rising breads--be they savory or sweet--which require yeast and time to make the rise, and quick breads--those which rise quickly due to the inclusion of baking powder, baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)  and high oven temperatures. Pumpkin bread falls into the latter category. 
   In the States Libby's canned pumpkin is carried year 'round. I was therefore saddened to find no canned pumpkin on the grocer's shelves here in England where it is an import--and believe me I looked in every Tesco's, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Aldi's I came across on our journeys. 
   After lamenting on FaceBook about the lack of canned pumpkin, a dear friend posted to tell me she had seen it at Waitrose. Of course! The only store Les has forbidden me to shop in, is the one that carries it!
   Three weekends ago we hired a car and drove down south to visit family in Watford and Luton. I told Les I wasn't coming back to the boat without stopping at a Waitrose for Libby's canned pumpkin, so we found one and trooped in to ask if they carried it. The clerk wasn't sure. She took us down the canned fruit aisle and there was none. I told her in the States it was stocked in the vegetable aisle. "Oh! Of course," she smiled and led the way. They had twelve cans and I cleaned them out. A can for every month in the year!!
   Now several folks contacted me to say I could buy fresh pumpkins at any grocers, but I only like fresh pumpkins for their seeds, which are delicious scooped out of the innards, cleaned under cold water and then left to soak in cold, well salted water for 24 hours after which I drain them, dry them with paper towels, oil them liberally with a good oil, spread the seeds on a baking tray and bake at 350 degrees (gas mark 4) until they are lightly browned and toasty. MMMmmmm!! Otherwise I have no use for the flesh. Years of experience have taught me that Libby's canned pumpkin puree makes the best pumpkin pies and breads. Why this is I do not know.
   I made my first batch of pumpkin bread over here last week. In Braunston we came across Jo and Keith on Hadar who came 'round for tea while we filled up with water. She loved it and asked for the recipe, so here it is with U.S. measures followed after the slash by European measures:

Libby's solid pack Pumpkin--1 can (15 oz/25g)
4 large eggs
Vegetable oil--(1 cup/8 fluid ounces/240 ml)
Water--(2/3's cup/160 ml) 
 Flour--all purpose or, for a very tender crumb use Soft As Silk cake Flour in the States/McDougalls 00 grade flour in England--(3 and a 1/2 cups/385grams)
Sugar--500 grams/2 and half cups
Baking Soda/Bi-carbonate of Soda--2 tsp. 
Salt--1 and 1/2 tsp. 
Cinnamon--1 tsp.
Nutmeg--1/8 tsp. 
Cloves-1/2 tsp. 
Ginger-1/4 tsp. 
Allspice--1/4 tsp.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Gas mark 4). Butter 2 large loaf pans. 
In a large bowl, mix together the canned pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. 
In a separate bowl, flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. 
Stir the dry ingredients into the Pumpkin mixture until just blended.
Pour into the buttered loaf pans. 
Bake approximately 50 minutes. Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  

Slices of pumpkin bread are delicious served warm with butter. You can also dress up your loaves by drizzling them with icing. Just mix some powdered sugar/icing sugar with some Maple syrup until you get the consistency which will run slowly off the end of a spoon. Drizzle your cooled loaves of pumpkin bread and serve. If you like nuts, you can also add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, hazel nuts or pecans to this bread. 


Carol said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

So glad you found some! This recipe sounds delish. I hope Les didn't forbid you from using the Waitrose vouchers we gave you guys. I thought we were being so clever!


Hase said...

I know the problem with canned pumpkin, that it is almost nowhere to get outside the States. Luckily I have a dear friend in the US that is sending me boxes full of it - and it definately is the best for making pies and bread and all made out of pumpkin. And YES!!! I also love the Great Pumpkin and Linus waiting for it!
I know it is early but I am taking the chance to wish you a very HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

XXXX, Silvia

Les Biggs said...

Hi Sally,
We did use those vouchers last summer and I LOVE Waitrose, however it is the most expensive of the grocers and that is why Les won't
let me shop there--except once a year for canned pumpkin!!
Love Jaq

Les Biggs said...

Happy Samhain Sylvia!
I'm glad you have a Libby's canned pumpkin pipeline going! Please let me know how you like the Pumpkin bread recipe.
Blessed Be!

Kalashnikat said...

Visited the UK a few years ago and met a couple of musicians who boat the canals performing with friends in a "Boat Band." Visited a canal pub near a spiral overpass somewhere near Stoke-on-Trent...our daughter was doing a time at a small university near there.
...can't remember the pub name now, but was fascinated by the whole boat canal system. Would love to rent a boat sometime and cruise England's canals.

Elly and Mick said...

After a visit to the US last year I wanted to try making "chess squares" that we tried over there. I couldn't get canned pumpkin in Australia, I'm so glad I read your post. Now I can find it! Better find a recipe now.
Elly (

Les Biggs said...

Hello Kalashnikat,
I am so excited to hear from a reader in Russia! We think the place you are describing is where the Trent & Mersey canal passes under the Macclesfield canal. that is a lovely stretch of canal. We hope you get a chance to come over and have a boat holiday. If you search our blog you will find posts about the very place you described.
Jaqueline and Les

Les Biggs said...

G'day Elli and Mick! I am pleased my blog on pumpkin has been so helpful to so many! Who knew?? Good luck finding your recipe. Thanks for following along with us.
Jaq and Les

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs