Taste of the world: harvest treats

Halloween just so happens to be my favorite holiday of the year (besides my birthday), so I am definitely feeling the fall spirit. When I was a little kid, my mom and I would bake together all the time, and one of the most delicious things we would make for the holidays was pumpkin spice bread.

You may be wondering where in the world pumpkin spice bread is from, or where in the world is Carmen San Diego, but I only have the answer to the first question. After some extensive research, I came to find that the recipe was developed by the pre-Columbian Native Americans, and Carmen was never really found. Over the years it developed into Pumpkin Spice Bread, as different spices were added and the recipe modified.

Today, this recipe has become a traditional dessert for fall and winter holiday season here in the USA, because this is the rare time that pumpkins are in season. Pumpkin Spice Bread is not only delicious and easy to make, but it is a very versatile dish. You can add ice cream to a warm slice fresh out of the oven, or you can do what I did and get impatient enough to take it out before its done and use the warm uncooked mixture at the top as icing, yummy!

Pumpkin Spice Bread requires a few wet ingredients: pumpkin puree, eggs, oil and water, and then a couple more dry ones: flour, baking soda, sugar, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and ground ginger. Mix all the wet ingredients into one bowl, and sift the dry ingredients into a separate bowl, then combine the two and blend. The oven should be preheated to 350 degrees, and the bread should bake for about an hour in a 9 inch by 5 inch nonstick baking pan.

The recipe I use calls for 50 minutes, but that was definitely not enough; estimate about an hour and 20 minutes. After about an hour you should check the bread first by shaking the pan a little; if the bread jiggles, its not done yet.

After that, check with a fork or a toothpick every 5-10 minutes. Stick it in the middle of the bread and if it comes out dry, the bread is done!

Baking sweet pumpkin seeds while you are waiting for the bread to bake is a fun and easy to do with you and your friends. I used two medium sized pumpkins about a pound each, which gave me about two cups of pumpkin seeds to use. After carving funny faces into the pumpkins, I washed the seeds and removed all pulp. Lay them out on a flat baking sheet, and put it in the oven for 5 or 6 minutes to dry the seeds.

When they're dry, pour the seeds into a bowl and melt about 2 tablespoons of butter to pour on top of the seeds. Add some sugar and some cinnamon and mix together. Then put the seeds back on the baking sheet, this time over some wax paper so they don't stick (I forgot to do this and it took forever to scrape the seeds off).

INGREDIENTS (Pumpkin Spice Bread):

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

3 cups sugar

3 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger


Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine.

Bake at 350 degrees in a 9 inch by 5 inch nonstick pan for about an hour.

INGREDIENTS (Pumpkin seeds):

Seeds extracted from two pumpkins

2 tbsp melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon


Melt the butter.

Coat the seeds in butter, sugar and cinnamon.

Place on non-stick tray and cook in oven.