‘The Great Water Break’ Pepita-crusted Pumpkin Bread

One year ago this evening, I managed to squat my very pregnant body low enough to pick up a baby book that had fallen on the floor. And then my water broke. Of course, as a first-time pregnant lady who paid little attention to pregnancy matters until I was pregnant, I didn’t understand that my water had just broken. The birthing classes I’d attended hammered home that only one in five women experience a spontaneous rupture without contractions (or pressure waves, as the natural childbirth proponents prefer to call a mother’s bodily response to helping her baby swoop into the world–babies swoop, right?).

With two and a half weeks to go before my official due date and nary a contraction, the sudden appearance of liquid all over my well-worn yoga pants and the floor meant only one thing: time to resign myself to a life of adult diapers. As I hobbled upstairs from the basement to break the news to my husband, I imagined the untapped market for fashion-forward adult diaper designs. Quotes from literary heavy hitters printed over durable reusable diapers seemed an untapped market, as did the thought of iconic images from The X-Files embossed on diapered derrieres–Tooms and Flukeman, natural choices for this monstrous turn of events in my life.

Not long after explaining my descent into the geriatric lifestyle, Cameron suggested I contact an on-call night nurse for advice. You know you have a keeper when your almost 30-year-old partner-in-crime doesn’t flinch after you suggest youthful end times are nigh. Within thirty seconds of my conversation with a nurse, she sent me to the hospital for a check-up where I learned that despite statistics I was, indeed, on my way to having a baby. Without contractions, though, the actual labor part of the process was nowhere in sight. Since every other part of my health and the baby’s health was in good shape, I opted to head home for the night and hope for contractions to kick in without intervention.

My daughter’s arrival two days later taught me a great deal about patience in the face of health decisions and also the importance of sneaking food while the hospital staff weren’t around. (No way I could have kept up strength to deliver my munchkin without surreptitious munchies along the way.)

A year out from that night of the Great Water Break, I’m slack-jawed at the fact I’ve managed to parent without screwing up too badly. My daughter has forever changed my life as she grows more and more into her own life with each passing day. Despite a busy schedule (childrearing, work, writing, and the occasional outdoor adventure), I made a personal pact to plan my little one’s birthdays until she’s old enough to plan them herself.

After deciding on a woodland-themed birthday party, I set to work on planning and buying craft and food supplies. Luckily, I married into a family of craft lovers. Cameron’s mother and aunt have been a blessing over the past six weeks, pitching in to help sew felt leaves for garlands and rearrange the Grandparent house to accommodate party guests. A couple of weekends ago, my friend Kate, mightily busy as she is, also took time out of her Saturday to help make kid-sized animal masks for the three babies who will be in attendance. Much thanks to everyone who’s lent a hand to make Alice’s first birthday a memorable one.

While I’m still trying to think of a good thank you for Cameron’s mother for all her thoughtful help, I was able to share a slice of today’s featured recipe, homemade pumpkin bread, with Kate during our recent crafting session. Though she cut herself off from taking home extra slices, she assured me this quick bread is a winner for a homemade autumn treat. I’ve made pumpkin bread in autumns and winters past, but I’d never thought to top it with pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) until trying a slice of Starbucks pumpkin bread. A tall Flat White and a hefty serving of this pepita-crusted sweetened bread have put a spring in my bedraggled step during some of the more exhausting months this past year. If you’re a fan of making your own autumn coffee desserts, grab this recipe’s ingredients and get baking. You’re in for a treat.

CCN Pumpkin Bread
Image by author.

Pepita-crusted Pumpkin Bread
Makes One 9-inch loaf

Ingredients
– 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp ground nutmeg
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 2 eggs, room temperature
– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
– 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
– 1/3 cup water
– 1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or line the length of pan with parchment paper. (I have no time to cajole baked goods from their pans so I sprayed and used parchment paper.)

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, whisking until ingredients are blended.

3. In your stand mixer (or bowl you plan to mix in), combine oil, white sugar, and brown sugar; beat them for about a minute. The mixture should look like clumped sand.

4. Now, add one egg and beat until it’s incorporated (about 30 seconds). Scrape down the bowl and add the second egg. Beat for about a minute, then scrape down the bowl again. By now the mixture should be glossy and smooth.

5. Add the vanilla extract, and then spoon in the pumpkin puree. Mix until the pumpkin is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl in and incorporating.

6. To the wet batter, add whisked dry ingredients and mix slowly until they disappear into the batter. You don’t want to overmix, because that will make for tough pumpkin bread. Finally, with mixer running on low, add water, streaming it in slowly until completely mixed into batter. Scrape the batter into the sprayed loaf pan, and sprinkle with pepitas.

7. Put the loaf pan on a baking sheet to prevent the bottom from baking too quickly. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed. I start checking my bread every five minutes at the 40-minute mark.

8. When ready, remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve warm or room temperature, and store tightly wrapped on counter for up to 4 days.


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