From Field to Fork: Celebrating Fall with Dianne’s Famous Pumpkin Bread

By Briana Burke
Seed bank manager at
Seed savers exchange

I love all seasons, but fall is my favorite. There’s a certain comfort to wearing a sweater and sipping a hot drink as a cool autumn breeze passes by that simply can’t be replicated – especially with the large backdrop of reds, yellows, oranges and browns that cover the hills and valleys in a patchwork. . Then, as the breeze blows, these quilts fall to the ground sheet by sheet, looking like festive confetti for one last party of the season before the quiet rest of winter.
Fall is also harvest time, and one of my favorite recipes to celebrate the fall harvest is my mom’s (Dianne Burke) pumpkin bread recipe. Everyone who’s tried my mom’s pumpkin bread recipe says it’s the best they’ve ever had. His secret? Use fresh, locally grown Waltham utternut squash. My mom was first drawn to the very different flavored variety of squash when she started working at the Seed Savers Exchange and was able to bring home some extra squash to try. We like to buy squash at the farmer’s market when it’s in season, and usually opt for a Waltham butternut squash over a similar squash because the sweetness and texture are just perfect for breading.
This recipe comes from my mother’s childhood. She was born in 1953 and grew up in Glenwood Township near Decorah. Although not physically far away, it was a very different place then. She attended a one-room primary school, grew up in a house with no running water that was only heated by an oil stove in the living room. As a child, she liked to cut recipes out of magazines and paste them into a notebook. We still have that notebook today, and that’s where his famous pumpkin bread recipe came from.

Dianne’s Famous Pumpkin Bread

1 medium butternut squash to make 2 cups of squash
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp. a soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 C. Nutmeg
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
3 cups of sugar
Add nuts if you wish!

Start this recipe by preheating the oven to 350.
Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon until only the smooth flesh remains. Place these halves face down in an ovenproof container with a rim. Fill with about half an inch of water. Bake for about 45 minutes. When ready, the squash will look wilted and can be easily pierced with a fork. Measure 2 cups of cooked squash.
Combine all dry ingredients, then add all remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.
Divide batter into 3 pre-greased standard sized loaf pans. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour. The forks should come out of the bread clean when it’s done.
Cool slightly in pans, then unmold and cool on wire racks. To be enjoyed plain or with butter.
I hope this recipe brings as much joy to your fall as we did to ours and helps you celebrate the season of gratitude and harvest in the most delicious way – with produce from our local farmers who care for this earth and this community!


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