award-winning pumpkin bread

6 single loaf | pumpkin bread_.jpg

I feel like likability is a thing and you're either a person that's completely okay with other people not liking you that much, or you HAVE to have everyone like you. Like, even the people you don't particularly care for - you make it your mission to make them like you because knowing that they don't like you is too uncomfortable. 

2 swirl in bowl | pumpkin bread_.jpg

Do you know what I mean? Which one are you? Do you care or do you have thick skin?  

I've been thinking about stuff like this lately because I thought I had thick skin, but maybe I don't. Remember when I mentioned meditation as a way of managing stress? Well I've been doing it religiously, and it's seriously changed my life.

1 chocolate chips in med | pumpkin bread_.jpg

I'm not very good at it, in fact I think I kind of suck, but it's amazing how much clarity it gives me every morning and every night when I take the time to do it. I can sleep now. Not just because I have a baby that now sleeps through the night, but because I've learned how to breathe through stupid-worry-full thoughts. (I made that word up, worry-full, seems more appropriate than worrisome.) 

I've noticed that during meditation I can get stuck on things, and one of those things is thinking about negative things. Like mean emails I get, or mean remarks that have been made towards me, etc. It doesn't happen often, but I for some reason, have a fantastic memory, and hold onto these little mean things like a collection of bee stingers. Picture a hoarder keeping a jar full of old toenail clippings, that's me and the mean jabs that've been made towards me. It's stupid. And honestly, I have an incredible life. These mean things are NOT a common occurrence, but when they happen, they stick. 

Meditation is helping me let stuff go. When I find myself revisiting these negative pinpricks I figuratively pop them like a bubble. I take a deep breath and remind myself of happier things. Like my Myles, John, my dog's waddle and chocolate fudge sundaes. 

4 birdseye loaves side by side | pumpkin bread_.jpg

I didn't realize how often I let negative stuff continually pester me. Meditation has helped me realize this and practicing meditation is helping me control it. Instead of thinking about negative stuff, I'm teaching my mind to think about nothing.

WHICH IS REALLY HARD.

But it's also amazing. I picture my favorite place in the world and then try to fill my mind with light. This probably makes me sound like a weirdo, but you know that feeling you get when you close your eyes and face the sun? That's the feeling I look for and try to emulate when I meditate. Just nothing but light - so it's a "good nothing" type of thing for me to focus on instead of just a blank-dark-empty nothing. 

Is this boring?

3 loaves side by side | pumpkin bread_.jpg

By the way do I sound presumptuous by claiming this bread as award-winning? Maybe it would help to know that this recipe came to my attention via text message from my sister. She texted me: "Bob! I made THE BEST pumpkin bread! You have to make it!" So like any good sister would, I made it.

And it was stinking good. And EASY.

Hold onto people that feel like sunlight.
— some quote i found on pinterest and loved

My sister feels like sunlight. In fact I have so many incredible friends and sister-friends that feel like sunshine. You, my blogging friend, are included in that category. Like that horribly catchy line from that Josh Groban song: You raise me up. Even if we haven't met yet, or if we're friends but haven't hung out in a while, or maybe we just know each other because #life - regardless - the fact that you're here, and with me, really means everything. 

Alright, huge hugs and happy baking. Love you friends. xo

5 sliced | pumpkin bread_.jpg

award-winning pumpkin bread

Makes 2, 8 x 4" loaves | adapted from Taste of Home

This bread is a great consistency and sweet without being headachy sweet. I'll never give you a recipe that's too sweet, we know that by now right? Because #sweetish? ;) I was talking to one of my dear friends (hi Brit!) about the “do I add chocolate chips to my pumpkin bread?” dilemma and I think this bread is great either way.  If you do add chocolate chips though, I suggest leaning more towards bittersweet chocolate than semisweet chocolate as the tiny bit of “bitter and tang" that comes from the darker chocolate evens out the sweetness of the loaf in the most beautiful way.

bakers note: I had to tent my bread with foil for about the last 5 minutes of baking so it wouldn't get too dark. 

3 cups / 375g all-purpose, unbleached flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, preferably organic

1 teaspoon salt, I used kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 eggs, room temperature, preferably pasture raised

2 cups / 240g sugar

2 cups / 450g canned pumpkin, preferably organic

1 ½ cups / 354ml sunflower oil, or any other clean, neutral oil, or melted butter, ghee or a combination of both

 1 ½ cups / 255g (6 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate bar cut up into large chunks

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C and prepare two 8 x 4” loaf pans. I prepared my pans by greasing both with softened butter, and then lined the bottom of the tins with parchment paper (and I only lined the very bottom of the pan, not the sides). Then I greased the paper again with more softened butter and dusted the whole thing with a tiny bit of flour, shaking and tapping out the excess flour.

If your eggs are cold, let them sit, (un-cracked and still in their shell) in a small bowl of very warm water to bring them to room temperature now.  This takes about 5 mins max.

With a whisk in a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

In another medium sized bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil together. If you used melted butter instead of the oil, just make sure the melted butter isn’t hot, or else it could curdle your eggs.

Stir your pumpkin wet mixture into your dry ingredients (flour, salt, cinnamon, and soda) until just moistened and you don’t see any visible lumps. Take care not to over mix. Next fold in your chopped chocolate or chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Pour and evenly distribute into two greased 8x4” loaf pans.

Bake at 350°F / 180°C for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the crack in the middle of the bread doesn’t look wet. My loaves took about 65 minutes at sea level.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to finish cooling. Can totally be eaten warm, but it's a little more crumbly of a piece this way.... but no one ever complains about that. 

 

7 close up slice | pumpkin bread_.jpg