This sweet bread is sure to please. Stephanie Leach, Los Gatos, California—The Old Farmer’s Almanac Recipe Contest, Dublin, New Hampshire
In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water; stir until dissolved. Add the pumpkin, oil, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and 1-½ cups of the flour. Using a mixer on low speed, beat until well blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more. Add the eggs and 1 cup flour; beat for 2 minutes. Stir in the raisins and enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 to 8 minutes. Place in a large greased bowl, turning the dough so that the top is greased. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Note that because of the high sugar content, it is essential that the first rising be in a warm place; room temperature will not do. For the best results, put the bowl in a 125°F oven for 20 minutes to get things going. Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Let rest for 10 minutes. Shape each half into a loaf. Place each loaf in a greased 9x5-inch pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the pans and cool on wire racks.