Last week, I baked two of Farmer Kev’s pie pumpkins, which made the richest, sweetest mash that I have ever tasted. Part of the mash went into a soup—thanks, Beth Clark, for the recipe—and the rest was saved for pumpkin bread.
The pumpkin bread unexpectedly turned out to be quite a project. I started last Friday, with everything at the ready and just enough sugar for the bread. (You can be sure sugar was on my grocery list.) I creamed the shortening and sugar, and as I cracked the first egg into the mixture, I noticed that the yolk was gelatinous, sticking to the shell.
“Oh, oh,” I muttered, sniffing the shell.
Sure enough, there was a slightly sour smell, and I saw a pin-prick hole at one end of the shell.
I surveyed the sugar, shortening, and bad egg, and for one crazy moment, I considered scooping the egg out of the mixture. Right. Eggs—even a bad one—ooze into everything, making it impossible to scoop them out entirely. I would have to get rid of the whole mess, which I did by throwing it into the woods. (Last time I looked, the creamed mixture was still there. No animal has wanted to touch it. Clever creatures!)
There was not enough sugar for another batch of pumpkin bread, which meant there was nothing that could be done until the next day, when I would buy more sugar.
This I did, thus beginning batch two on Saturday afternoon. You can be sure that this time each egg—the recipe calls for four—was cracked into a little bowl so that I could sniff and examine it before dumping into it the creamed mixture. Naturally, all the eggs were good, and the batter went together without a hitch.
Next there were the bread pans to consider. Last year, the pumpkin bread stuck to the pans, but I’ve been making yeast bread with those same pans, and there is never a problem. I figured last year I hadn’t done a good enough job greasing the pans, and for this batch of pumpkin bread, I spent extra time greasing the pans.
Unfortunately, the pumpkin bread again stuck to the pans—both loaves did this—shearing off the bottom of each loaf of bread. The loaves look a little clipped, but they are edible. (Clif and I ate the parts stuck to the pan.)
“Once the loaves are sliced no one will notice,” Clif said.
True enough. But how irritating, especially after the rotten egg incident.
“I think the nonstick surface of the bread pans has worn out,” Clif said. “And yeast bread dough is not as sticky as pumpkin bread.”
Clif is probably right. “We should buy some new pans,” he added.
Not so fast. I don’t like getting rid of things wily-nilly, and I’m going to give those pans one more try when I make pumpkin bread for Christmas. I’ll line them with either parchment paper or waxed paper. (I remember my mother lining pans with waxed paper.) If that doesn’t work, then out with those pans.
Now, onward to the gravy. Yesterday, I cooked the chicken legs and made the stock, which is very tasty indeed. Today, I’ll thicken it with flour and butter, and pop the gravy into the freezer.
Out the gravy will come on Thursday morning, ready for the big meal in the afternoon. And I’ll be sure to cut the pumpkin bread in small slices so that nobody will notice the sheared bottoms.