Turn Your Jack-O’-Lantern Guts Into Pumpkin Bread
Since we’re all carving our pumpkins this week in hopes they’ll make it through Halloween before they rot or get squirrels , you’ve probably been digging through pumpkin innards and separating the seeds to make crispy fall snacks . When you’re done, don’t throw away the sticky pumpkin intestines—make something tasty out of them.
My family doesn’t really like Thanksgiving pumpkin pie (because of our genetic hatred of nutmeg, not to mention that canned pumpkin is a lie ), so I started mashing our Halloween pumpkin intestines, freezing a little and using the rest to make pumpkin bread and/or muffins. Here are some of the variations I have enjoyed over the years of carving parties.
How to make pumpkin puree
There are many ways to peel a pumpkin. The Food Network recipe calls for a whole pumpkin , and their puree probably tastes great, but we’re aiming to use zero lantern leftovers here.
First, make sure you only have pumpkin intestines, no rinds or seeds. After my carvers have dug everything up and put it in large bowls for me, I usually do this task by hand. (I’m not sure there’s a better way, but if you have one, let me know – it’s a dirty job.) I keep the seeds, of course, and discard the hard skin. I then place the intestines in a food processor or blender. Any of them will give equally smooth results, so choose the device that you like best.
Unfortunately, the texture of your puree will vary from pumpkin to pumpkin. Usually my purees come out a little thinner than canned ones, with a consistency more like applesauce, but you can dry your guts a bit with paper or cloth towels before blending if you want a thicker puree.
Pumpkin gut bread (and muffins)
You can, of course, try changing your favorite pumpkin bread recipe by using mashed potatoes as a substitute, but if you want a tried and tested flavor, here’s the one I use to make breads and muffins.
This recipe makes two loaves or two dozen muffins. You can halve the recipe if you like, but pumpkin bread freezes pretty well.
- 2 cups flour (wheat or white, I often double)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ cup (1.5 packs) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- Up to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, added at the flour stage. (Remember to dust the chips with flour so they don’t sink during baking.)
- Spices. My family doesn’t like spices, but you can add one teaspoon each of nutmeg, cinnamon and/or cloves in any combination before they become overpowering even for those who love “pumpkin spices”.
- Preheat oven to 325°
- For the bread: Grease and flour 2 8×4 bread pans.
- For the muffins: Line up the muffin cups.
- In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients (and chocolate chips, if using).
- In a stand mixer or separate bowl, using a hand or electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time and stir until combined.
- Add vanilla.
- Add pumpkin. The dough will be lumpy.
- Add dry ingredients. Blend on low speed until blended. Don’t stir.
- For bread: I recommend weighing your bread pans when you add the batter to make sure they are even, but to the best of your ability, add batter to both pans evenly. Bake for an hour and then start checking every 5 minutes. A toothpick or cake tester will come out clean or with a couple of wet crumbs when it’s done. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and enjoying. It will fall apart if you cut it off too soon.
- For cupcakes: Fill cups about half way. I like to use a cookie scoop or an ice cream scoop. Bake for 15 minutes and then check every two minutes. A toothpick or cake tester will come out clean or with a couple of wet crumbs when done. Chill in the molds for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before enjoying. If you try to remove the wrapper before they have cooled, it will stick.
Wait a minute
You can look at this list of ingredients and say, “Sugar, flour, butter… Oh my God, it’s a pie !” To which I say, a muffin is just a cupcake with the best PR. However, if you’re in need of a little fall treat, feel free to make a quick cream cheese frosting (if you’re eating it before noon, you can call it “cream cheese spread”) by mixing together a stick of butter, a packet of cream cheese, a splash of vanilla, a pinch salt and as much powdered sugar as needed to make the taste funny, but not too funny.