Pumpkins, Please, For Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Nothing beats the look of a roadside stand selling the orange beauties. MARGARET M. JOHNSON

Ireland Hopping | By Margaret M. Johnson

While pumpkins are not native to Ireland, they are in great demand during the autumn, especially around Halloween (also known as Samhain, one of the four ancient Celtic festivals). In the U.S. we use pumpkins in many sweet and savory dishes, but most cooks find it more efficient to purchase canned pumpkin rather than to cut and scrape the flesh from a fresh one — even though, nothing beats the look of a roadside stand selling the orange beauties! If you like to add some color and crunch to your pumpkin treats, try sweetened dried, fresh, or frozen cranberries. You’ll find recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland (now BOGO/buy one get one free); order signed copies at

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These muffins are perfect for breakfast, but sweet enough even for a tasty dessert.

3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup canola oil

  • 1/2 cup orange juice

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Softened butter for spreading

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat two standard muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, mixed or pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and juice with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended and smooth; stir in flour mixture and nuts.

  3. Transfer batter to prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in centers comes out clean.

  4. Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from pans and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

  5. Serve immediately spread with softened butter, or store in covered container for up to three days.

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I personally love cranberries and look for any excuse to use them, even before their obligatory appearance on the Thanksgiving table. They’re a delicious addition to this moist pumpkin bread.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans

Whipped cream cheese for spreading (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 9-inch loaf pans and dust with flour; tap out excess.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt; stir in sugar.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture, and then stir in pumpkin, cranberries, and pecans.

  4. Transfer to prepared pans and bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert breads onto a wire rack, return to upright, and let cool completely.

  5. To serve, cut bread into slices and serve spread with whipped cream cheese, if desired. Loaves can be frozen.

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Makes 1 loaf

The name of this cake comes from the list of ingredients traditionally used for it: one pound each of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. The ingredients remain the same today, but the beauty of this cake is the number of other flavors that can be added, including pumpkin and autumn spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin

3 large eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.

  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk in cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

  3. In another large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture until smooth.

  4. Transfer to the prepared pan, smooth top, and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and let cool completely.


Serves 6 to 8

If you love pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie, you’ll adore this rich pudding made with challah bread! Top it with freshly whipped cream enhanced with mascarpone cheese.


1 cup pure pumpkin

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 loaf challah bread, cut or torn into pieces

1 cup chopped pecans

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

  1. Make pudding. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch glass baking pan.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, vanilla, sugar, eggs, and milk until smooth. Add bread, stir to coat, and then let bread soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. Transfer to prepared pan, sprinkle with pecans, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean.

  4. Make whipped cream. In a medium bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add mascarpone and continue whipping, gradually adding sugar, until stiff peaks form.

  5. To serve, spoon pudding into stem glasses and top with whipped cream. (Leftover whipped cream can be refrigerated for 3 days).

  • Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” Her newest cookbook, Teatime in Ireland, will be published later this year! For further details on her work or to order a signed cookbook, visit