Thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions for baking pumpkin bread using fresh pumpkin. I made the bread last night (photo below) and sent it off w/ my husband to bring to his colleagues today. I used the EPI recipe linked below as a guide and have a few questions at the end of this post. Note to "pumpkin": I do want to make your pumpkin gingerbread recipe for myself one day.
My modifications: halved the recipe for one loaf; used fresh pumpkin puree (about 1.25 c.), ground ginger (about 3/4 tsp.), superfine sugar, canola oil; decreased cloves. Since it called for 3 eggs, I used 2. Total baking time was about 65 min. Smelled *incredible* while baking and really put me into the fall spirit! Much like my plum tart marked the beginning of summer.
I did sample an end slice w/ my cup of coffee this AM for quality control purposes. Had a pleasant pumpkin spice flavor and worthy enough to share; however, it could use some fine-tuning. I like the flavor of fresh pumpkin, but you hounds were right, it's not the same deep, molasses-like flavor as the canned. Not inferior, just different and more subtle. The spices (ginger, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg) could have popped a little more, but I tasted the batter and didn't want them to overpower the subtle pumpkin. Walnuts were great, and I wish I would have used 3/4 c. instead of just 1/2. Crumb was soft and moist, but a little too "springy" for my taste. Oh well, the good thing about it not being "just right" for my taste is that I didn't have a tantrum parting w/ it. :-)
What I would do differently next time: reduce the sugar. I wanted to follow the core recipe since the bread would be given away and I'd never made it before, but 1.5 c. of sugar for one loaf is obscene and overboard. The baked bread didn't taste cloyingly sweet, but I think 1-1.25 c. is better. Might try half regular and half brown sugar, if using fresh pumpkin. Will increase the spices, especially the ginger, a bit.
Here are my questions:
1. Why do American quick bread recipes usually use oil instead of butter??!! I used oil as called for, but quickly wished I had used a stick of butter instead. Does oil improve the chemistry, texture, or rising in some way that butter wouldn't??
2. How can I get a deeper, molasses-like flavor in my pumpkin? Would it help to roast on higher heat (say 400-450F) so some flesh got caramelized or would that taste off/burnt in a recipe?
3. When you halve a baking recipe, how do you convert leavening agents like baking powder and soda? Do you cut in half or do something different? The best answer is probably to find a recipe that you don't have to halve, but I didn't have enough fresh pumpkin puree to make the full recipe. Thanks for your help!