Stirring up . . . Pumpkin Bread

     This time of year reminds me of all the baking we used to do in the foods classes at Abilene High School. Advanced Foods and later the Catering Class would offer baked goods for sale right before the holidays . . . cookies, rolls, quickbreads, candies and other specialities. This moist and delicious bread was always a good seller.

Pumpkin Bread          Makes two 9"x5" loaves
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 lb. canned pumpkin (without added sugar & spices) or 16 oz. (2 cups) pumpkin puree
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt (scant measure)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon each -- ground cinnamon, allspice & nutmeg
2/3 cup water

1.  Mix sugar, oil and eggs together. Add pumpkin. Then add dry ingredients, then water, stirring until mixed. 

2.  Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9”x5" loaf pans.
Fill pans about 3/4 full.
3.    Bake in preheated oven at 350° for one hour or until toothpick (stuck in center) comes out clean.  

Why do many quick bread get a crack in the top?
In the last few years, I’ve been judging foods at the local fair so downloaded some 4-H judging standards from the University of Nebrask-Lincoln Extension so I could brush up. Here’s what they say about the crack that often develops in quick breads . . .
The crack in the top of the loaf is characteristic.
"Some recipes may have a crack and others do not. Baked products should not be scored down because of a crack. The crack develops because there is a large mass of batter in the loaf pan that heats slowly. Smoother crusts develop when there is a longer time for the leavening agent to react. This results in an increase in volume before the crust sets, resulting in a smooth crust. If the baking is rapid, a crust with a cracked top and a more solid crumb will develop. Using long, narrow pans will also result in a crease or crack on top. Consistency of the batter will influence the depth of the crack. Batter touches the edge of the pan first. As the batter warms to baking temperature, it thins and allows a film of fat and sugar to run towards the center of the crust. This shiny line or sticky crack then forms down the center of the loaf. A crack may also form when the underlayer or unbaked batter 'erupts' when the leavening agent reacts.”

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