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Dorm Gourmet: October 25

It seems like pumpkin is the new “it” thing in the world of fall food. Pumpkin spice lattes have become synonymous with autumn, and the iconic fall gourd is making its way into everything from Greek yogurt to bagels to Pause shakes. So when I found myself with a spare can of pumpkin, I realized that there was an endless list of possible things to do with it.

A quick scan of Pinterest proved that I was right. I browsed through an interesting set of options:

Pumpkin pie protein smoothie? Nope.

Pumpkin fritters? Intriguing, but nope.

Pumpkin casserole? Gross.

Then it hit me. Right between pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin macaroni and cheese was a fall classic: pumpkin bread. Pumpkin and bread are two of my favorite things, so I was surprised that I’d never made it before. In fact, I’d never even eaten pumpkin bread. Feeling like I couldn’t join the growing masses of pumpkin devotees without first trying the basics, I decided to give it a go.

The next step: find a recipe. Despite the onslaught of new diets and nutritional guidelines, I’ve retained a firm belief in my German grandmother’s conviction that fat and sugar really do make things taste better. So, I skimmed over recipes with anything like “low fat” or “healthy” in the title on my quest for the most fat and sugar-laden recipe I could find. The winner? 3.5 cups of flour, 2.5 cups of sugar, 1 cup of oil and 4 eggs, mixed together with a can of pumpkin and spices and baked into two loaves of fall goodness.

Lured by the promise of a share in the end product, a couple of friends joined me in our honor house kitchen to do the deed. It was almost too easy. After throwing everything into a large bowl and stirring it into a thick batter, we poured the mixture into loaf pans, and it was ready to go.

As the bread baked in the oven, a smell not unlike the famous Malt-O-Meal scent permeated the house. One by one, my housemates came back from campus gushing about the smell and dropping not-so-subtle hints that they’d appreciate a share of the spoils.

After they had baked for a full hour, we pulled out two perfectly golden loaves, rounded at the top with a narrow slit beginning to form down the middle. I’m a notoriously impatient baker and eater, so I cut a thick slice just a few minutes after taking it out of the oven.

Still steaming hot, the first bite melted in my mouth as my taste buds picked out the subtle hints of nutmeg and cinnamon.

While the bread was perfectly delicious when eaten plain, I later discovered that it was also good lathered with a generous swipe of homemade almond butter and a drizzle of real maple syrup. Paired with a bitter autumn ale, it was even better.

With my first loaf of pumpkin bread in the books, I feel like I can join the throngs of pumpkin addicts everywhere. And for this, a little thanks is due. I’m indebted to my sugar-loving grandma. I’m indebted to my helpful and only slightly self-interested friends, and I’m indebted to that clever soul who thought it was a good idea to smash a gourd into a mushy pulp and make it into a loaf of bread that’s perfect for a fall afternoon and perfect for sharing with friends. If pumpkin is the new trend, I’ll be the first to jump on board.

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