Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson


Jaunty Post

Most of you who know me understand that baking and photography are two of my passions. Earlier this week, I decided to indulge in a little of both. Actually, the photography inspiration happened as I was baking. The way the sun was streaming in through the kitchen window just begged me to photograph what was happening around that area – and that happened to be the pumpkin bread I was baking.
I used to think I had the perfect pumpkin bread recipe. It was my grandma’s. What’s not to love about that? Then I tasted Starbucks’s pumpkin loaf. It has the perfect balance of sweet and spice. So, of course, I saw a challenge ahead of me: recreate Starbucks’s perfect pumpkin loaf. I think I’ve come pretty close. Grandma would definitely approve. My remaking of my grandma’s bread sort of reminds me of
Caroline Coopersmith, the heroine of my book TEXAS MAGIC (Special Edition, October 2012). Caroline’s secret passion is baking. She and I have that in common, but where we differ is that Caroline tends to cling too tightly to tradition – even if it’s making her miserable. It’s only when hero Drew Montgomery helps her realize that she has spent too many years doing what’s expected of her, not what makes her happy that she is able to fall in love and live her dream.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about family tradition. But there’s nothing wrong with giving it a new twist every once in a while.
Tell me about your family traditions. Are there any that you’ve given your own signature? How did that go over with the family?

Here’s what I did with the pumpkin bread:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (be sure to get the plain pumpkin puree not the pumpkin pie filling – otherwise, it will be too spicy)
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup of roasted Pepita/pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan.

2. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves into a small bowl.
3. Beat (for about 1 minute) the butter, sugar, and oil on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Set your mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture and 2/3 cup water and mix until just combined. Do not over-beat.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
6. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top of the batter.

7. Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the loaf pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.



16 thoughts on “Fiddling With Tradition…good or bad?

  1. Sounds delicious, Nancy! I’m love baking and fiddling with old recipes to recreate a taste I’ve experienced somewhere else. I am definitely going to try this recipe soon. Can’t wait to read TEXAS MAGIC!

    1. Kathy, you and your family have lots of tradition with food, don’t you?

  2. Oh, Nancy! Thanks for that recipe! I also love to bake, and dared to stray from my own grandma’s apple pie recipe. She reluctantly tried a piece or three, then declared it to be “not bad.” 😉 I love books with baking in them! TEXAS MAGIC sounds wonderful.

    1. I hope you like the pumpkin bread, Kristan! If you’re not crazy about clove, you might was to go lighter on it. I happen to love it, but I realized after I posted the recipe everyone might not be as crazy about it as I am. Let me know what you think and someday I’d love to try your recipe for the new take on your grandma’s pie.

  3. Connie Fischer says:

    That sounds and looks delicious. My son is a huge fan of anything pumpkin and he really loves this time of year so he can get his fill of pumpkin pie, pumpkin flavored coffee and pumpkin cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. He will visit for Thanksgiving again and I want to make this for him to take home with him. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. I hope he likes it, Connie! Like I said to Kristan above, if he’s not crazy about clove, you might was to go lighter on it. Maybe somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp. Let me know what he thinks.

  4. Mozette says:

    Straying from tradition sounds perfect to me… but what I do first is: perfect the original recipe first. Then! I can do what I call ‘give it my own twist’. I write down the original; and then, on the opposite page, I have my own type of the same recipe.

    For example: I make a delicious pumpkin fruit cake. I perfected the recipe and it’s delicious. And now, instead of using the usual dried fruit with cherries… which not everyone loves…. I use dried cranberries and blueberries; which adds a nicer, sweeter and a little bit of tartness to the cake; as well as giving everyone their superfruits for the day and a little bit of roughage too. 😀

    I’ve been doing the same thing with anything that originally has tomatoes in it. I made the most delicious pasta dish tonight and it didn’t have a scrap of the fruit in it… and yet, it still tasted wonderful! 😀

    1. Mozette, that’s very sound advice that I agree with 100%! Master the original and then take the recipe on a different journey. I love how you substituted the blueberries and cranberries in your cake. Sounds delicious!

  5. Sandi in OH says:

    I love to bake but because I’m diabetic type 2 I don’t do it very often. I splurge this morning and had a blueberry pancake because I had my blood test earlier. Most of my traditions went by the wayside when my grandparents died. Now I’m the one that has Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The one that I maintain is using my grandmother’s chine which belonged to her grandmother. It came over on a wooden ship from England, and is dated in the 1700’s. My grandmother always used it on family holidays. My mom thinks I’m crazy but then it came from my dad’s side of the family.

    1. Sandi, what a fabulous treasure! I’ll bet it makes the holidays extra special.

  6. Kathleen O says:

    My receipe is very similar to yours, but I add in raisins and walnuts to mine. I did not make it at our Thanksgiving, but I am going to do a bunch for Christmas. I put them in my little baskets I make up for Xmas gifts.

    1. Kathleen, that sounds delicious! I’ll have to try that sometime. What a nice and thoughtful gift. Your friends are lucky.

  7. Phyllis says:

    I’m going to try this! I make pumpkin bread about twice a year and am never happy with it (and always go into shock at the amount of oil the recipes say to put in – and this one looks reasonable). I find the Starbucks one too sweet, so might cut back on sugar a bit.

    Thanks for that 🙂

    1. Phyllis, I was amazed at how moist mine turned out. It does have about the same sweetness level as Starbucks’s. So, cutting down on the sugar might be a good idea. Also, as I’ve already mentioned to a couple of others above, if you’re not crazy about cloves, you might want to go lighter on that ingredient. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

  8. Shana Shana says:

    Wow! That looks delicious! I really do love pumpkin.

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