Home Sea Fare Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice

by James O. Fraioli

Photo by Quentin Bacon
Photo by Quentin Bacon

With summer in our rearview mirror, the days darken and our shadows grow. Reaching for one of my preferred fall cookbooks, New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian, which I co-wrote with Chef Freddie Bitsoie, I’m compelled to share a comforting recipe inspired by rich Indigenous cuisine and fresh flavors. This autumn dessert represents and celebrates a thriving culture that remains a current, present, and relevant part of the Pacific Northwest. Warm, nourishing dishes like this decadent bread pudding are integral to maintaining wellness throughout the cooler months while offering a snapshot of just how easy and accessible Native American cooking can be.


Indigenous recipes did include lightly sweetened, spiced, and roasted squash, but pumpkin breads or pies didn’t exist in traditional Native American recipes. If you’re interested in a pumpkin dessert, try this nutty, chocolaty, decadent bread pudding as a delicious alternative to the expected holiday pie.

Serves 6 to 8

1 loaf Pumpkin Bread, recipe follows, cut into 1½ inches cubes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips

Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with the butter. Arrange the diced pumpkin bread evenly on the bottom and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, vanilla, and sugar until well incorporated. Set aside.

In a small saucepot over medium heat, bring the milk to a heavy simmer. Once simmering, slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. (Note: Whisk slowly; if you add the hot milk all at once, the eggs will curdle.) Slowly pour into the greased pan, over the diced pumpkin bread. Make sure all the bread is soaked with the mixture. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Transfer to the refrigerator and let set for about 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Prepare a water bath, which is used to keep baked items very moist, by filling a baking or oven-proof pan that’s larger than the 9-inch square with hot water. Slowly place the square inside the larger pan. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Pumpkin Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1½ cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pumpkin purée

½ cup oil

2 eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

½ cup chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift and flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda into a mixing bowl. In another bowl, add ¼ cup water, the pumpkin purée, oil, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix well to combine. Now whisk the flour-salt-sugar mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Then stir in the walnuts.

Grease a standard loaf pan (8 ½ x 4½ x 2 ½ inches) with the butter. Pour the mixture into the pan and place on a sheet pan. Transfer to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

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