Chatting with a chef friend yesterday, I nodded in complete agreement at his opinion on pumpkin everything: “I love a good pumpkin pie, but all the pumpkin spice latte and the rest — it’s just too much.” So many pumpkin-spice items are over the top, and a good many bear kind of a fake aftertaste. But there’s nothing wrong with using pumpkin pie spices in the right way, of course. That’s how I came up with Pumpkin Gingerbread. Baked like a pumpkin loaf, it’s a blend of spices you associate with pumpkin pie — along with molasses, ginger, and cardamom. The pepitas (roasted, salted pumpkin seeds) on top provide both a pretty topping and good crunch in the bite. With a cup of coffee, it’s a good morning treat. Or, top it with whipped cream and you have a perfect fall dessert. It’s so quick and easy, and your kitchen smells like heaven.

Makes 1 (9-inch) loaf

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ season sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

3 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons dark molasses

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

½ to ¾ cup roasted, salted pepitas

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, blend butter and brown sugar. Add flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom. Mix well. Add eggs a little at a time, blending well. Stir in buttermilk and molasses, then pumpkin, until combined and smooth.

Turn into prepared loaf pan and top with pepitas.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at center comes away clean.

Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing to a plate. Cool another 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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