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  Perfect Pumpkin Bread

The first pumpkins (both the decorative and delicious varieties) have begun to arrive at grocery stores, which means that the best season of all has officially started: pumpkin season. While it might be slightly early to start your jack-o-lantern artwork, it's never too early to enjoy a hearty slice of freshly baked pumpkin bread, especially if you're using this outstanding recipe from VN columnist Beverly Lynn Bennett.

Makes 1 loaf

What You Need:

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup Sucanat
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
Juice and zest of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup filtered water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for oiling pan
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped

What You Do:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a loaf pan and toast for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer seeds to a small bowl. When loaf pan is cool, lightly oil with olive oil.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, Sucanat, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add pumpkin purée, orange juice and zest, water, and olive oil, and stir gently to combine all ingredients.

3. Stir in cranberries, ginger, and 2/3 of the toasted seeds. Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with remaining seeds and press into top of loaf. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

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