Weeknight Cooking

Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread

November 14, 2011

Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread

- Jenny

There are certain things in life that occur time and again that, try as I might, I simply cannot brook. The partial list alone, which really does shame me, includes: aggressive gum-chewing, wet towels on the bathroom floor (which oddly does not annoy me quite as much as mismatched socks found under various pieces of furniture, which I think underscores my flexibility) and people who bring store-bought baked goods to an event when the note sent home from whatever person is torturing you with this request for treats specifically stated that such goods will be offered for sale.

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Miss a parent teacher conference, fail to comb your hair, don’t mow the lawn, fall asleep at your desk during an important Senate floor speech or lay five purses across the movie seats to save them even though you know perfectly well only four friends are coming. But please do not re-sell an Entenmann's donut at the bake sale.

When the instructions call for “something healthy,” as it did for a recent sale for the school 5K, may I suggest Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread, which mixes up right quick and is a very big notch above your average pumpkin bread.

I chose this recipe because I assume people might like a hearty slice of bread after a run, rather than a chocolate chip cookie, though I make no health claims about either item relative to the other. What makes this bread special is the ginger kick you get from the mix of fresh and powdered ginger.

The mixing is quite straightforward -- you will note that this is all done easily by hand and that your bowl of wet ingredients will smell vaguely of Christmas. Once you add the ginger, that scent will overwhelm everything else in the bowl, and you will start to worry vaguely about people who don’t care for ginger.  This will mellow slightly as it bakes.

If you do not have turbinado or another raw sugar, I would not substitute with granulated; just skip that final step. The results of Foxes’s recipe are a hearty, fragrant loaf, with a crust almost like that of a cake donut on the top, and a soft, deeply ginger body.

Now, the baking directions call for 40 minutes, but my bread was plenty soft in the middle after that time; your oven times will vary but be careful because this bread can look deceptively dry on the top while still plenty moist in the middle. In fact, I will tell you that the person who got the very middle slice may have consumed a bit of undercooked batter. I hope they are more tolerant than me. (Or is it I?) I have no tolerance for my own grammar!

Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread by Foxes

Serves 8

2.5 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 egg

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Butter and flour a 9" x 5" loaf pan.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg.

  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, vegetable oil, molasses, and buttermilk until well combined.

  5. Add the fresh ginger and vanilla extract to the wet ingredients and mix well.

  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (do not overmix).

  7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

  8. In a small bowl, mix the turbinado sugar with the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the batter.

  9. Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

  10. Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

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  • JocelynT
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  • Jenetaylor
  • chasey

Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


JocelynT October 12, 2013
This bread is wonderful! Not too sweet and great with a dab of butter. Mine took 60 minutes at 350 until a knife into the center came out clean.
abbyarnold December 12, 2011
Hi Jennifer: Per discussion of no-bake bake sale items, I found this recipe. I'm not sure it sounds particularly appetizing, but it does provide another home-made alternative when needed!

Orange Ball Cookies

Put the vanilla wafers in a large food storage bag and crush them with a rolling pin,
or pulse them in the food processor until you have fine crumbs.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

12 ounces vanilla wafers
6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
16 ounces powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
3 1/2 ounces (by weight)coconut, or about 1 to 1 1/2 cups by volume

Crush vanilla wafers until fine. Mix together the crushed vanilla wafers, orange juice concentrate, powdered sugar, butter, and chopped pecans.
Shape mixture into walnut-size balls; roll in coconut. Store balls in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Grandma K. November 28, 2011
I included this in my Christmas baking. I am done making breads, muffins, scones and a bundt cake for the week before Christmas as my youngest will be staying with us till the 26th and I expect a lot of company. I hope it came out ok but for the future if it isn't quite done you can cut it up into slices and toast it.
Jestei December 4, 2011
Great point thank for for trying them.
Jenetaylor November 27, 2011
Made this recipe twice. First time very undercooked but delicious. Second time used a larger pan and cooked longer with better results. I think muffins are the way to go. I added raisins and crystallized ginger to the batter and incorporated the ginger "sugar" from the ginger container with the turbinado.
Jestei December 4, 2011
That is great. I will make them as muffins next time to avoid that cooking time issue.
chasey November 21, 2011
Why are we hating on the non-baking crowd? Some women bake others macrame others carve wood and some very talented women do all three. Sure it would be nice if every one understood the importance of quality ingredients, however I don't know that the judgement helps. Show up with your delectables and when they ask "how you did that?!" Share with them how easy it was and how great Food 52. Yeesh.
Jestei December 4, 2011
I don't object to people who can't bake. I object to people who SELL things they bought at the grocery store at a BAKE SALE.
abbyarnold November 19, 2011
I SO agree about re-selling baked goods that were old when they got to Albertson's! If you must bring something and you don't have an oven, you can make Rice Krispie Treats in a microwave. I use real butter and add butterscotch chips. There is no excuse for not baking for a bake sale. Thank you.
Jestei November 21, 2011
or just work the craft booth. there is no shame in not baking. but the store bought thing is a trend that must be stopped immediately.
ryanm November 19, 2011
I made this yesterday, spurred on by all the comments. Took it out after 40 minutes, when the toothpick was clean, let it cool, and then only once it was too late discovered that, despite the clean toothpick, it was only halfway done. I tried cutting around that but without much success. I hope others had better luck.
Jestei November 21, 2011
as i allude to in the story, the one issue with this recipe is that the top appears done before the middle is. i agree it is an issue; you just have to bake it longer.
courtneycarlson November 17, 2011
One of the benefits of having an 8 months old: I know I'll be up at 6am (perhaps earlier) so I can make this before school tomorrow morning. So excited. Sorry I didn't see it earlier in the week, but it will be perfect before tomorrow's chilly walk to school. Ive been swapping out coffee with homemade chai, imagine these together.. Awesome. Can't wait to wake up!
Jestei November 21, 2011
tell us how it turns out
courtneycarlson November 17, 2011
One of the benefits of having an 8 months old: I know I'll be up at 6am (perhaps earlier) so I can make this before school tomorrow morning. So excited. Sorry I didn't see it earlier in the week, but it will be perfect before tomorrow's chilly walk to school. Ive been swapping out coffee with homemade chai, imagine these together.. Awesome. Can't wait to wake up!
santa November 17, 2011
I am not much of baker since I am a celiac, but saw this and I had to make it. Doubled the recipe to use the whole can of Whole Food's organic pumpkin, and I used Meister gluten free flour. I though the dough was a bite stiff and the final bread was rather dense. It tasted ok, but I wish it was lighter and had more spice kick.
Jestei November 21, 2011
Hm sorry to hear this could it be it does not work GF?
Waverly November 15, 2011
Sounds delicious, and Jenny, reselling grocery store bakery cookies/muffins/breads - it gets my goat too. Is it because I took the time to bake or is it because home baked is superior - or is it because some parents seem to think the rules don't apply to them?.........I could go on and on about that (carpool line in particular). I adore pumpkin bread and this recipe sounds wonderful! Thanks for another entertaining article!
chasey November 15, 2011
Does anyone have any results to report? How did this recipe turn out?
lorigoldsby November 16, 2011
i made this last night for my "Holiday Treats" class. We made them in mini loaf pans (recipe makes 3 mini loaves). I added 2 T. melted butter and 2 t. crystallized ginger (minced) and a sprinkle of cardamon to the topping. It was really good! It will definitely go into the rotation!
chasey November 21, 2011
Thank you madame... I didn't have buttermilk. Drrr. I missed that on the list some how. So, I used the spicing from this recipe and substituted the base of the bread. I still really want to try this one! The crystalized ginger sounds amazing. If you're a fan of that, have you tried Diane Kron's chocolate covered crystalized ginger? Amazing. http://www.dianekronchocolates.com/
cfelten November 15, 2011
I doubled the recipe to use the entire can of pumpkin that I had, added an extra egg to make up the volume (1.5 cups of pumpkin instead of 2), and used 8.5 x 4.5 pans, since I didn't have a 9 x 5. The loaves are in the oven now, baking nicely with no overflow. The fragrance is also overtaking the lingering smell of burned onions from last night. When the smoke alarm goes off, dinner is served!
AntoniaJames November 15, 2011
BTW, when I made this into muffins, I used roasted butternut squash that I'd pureed and then frozen. After thawing it out, I let it sit in my yogurt cheese draining box (a nifty square two-part device called "the Wave" and made by Donvier) while I prepared the other ingredients. You could also use a colander or strainer lined with a wet handkerchief or cheesecloth. ;o)
enbe November 15, 2011
This has so many of my favorite things about fall in it. I'm plotting when I can make this...
mcs3000 November 15, 2011
First the soup and now the bread. My Thanksgiving menu is coming together.
Kitchen B. November 15, 2011
She lives, unearthing gems......with words and recipes. Jenny - sprinkle some of humour dust on me.
AntoniaJames November 14, 2011
I made this recipe tonight as muffins -- 12 gorgeous, generous-sized ones, which I baked for 23 minutes at 350 degrees. Outstanding! ;o)
Kitchen B. November 15, 2011
Thanks AJ for the muffin tip-off. One to add to a growing list!
mcs3000 November 15, 2011
AJ - So great to meet you @ Omnivore. Thanks for signing my book and for all your awesome tips.
AntoniaJames November 15, 2011
KB, consider adding a few nuts. I'm going to, next time, to give the muffins a bit more textural interest. ;o)
lorigoldsby November 14, 2011
Jenny--you make rainy Mondays bearable with your wonderful recipes and good humor! Your flexibility is in your thinking, my dear!
sheredel November 14, 2011
sounds very good, ....will keep this one!