3 ways to bake a pumpkin

Baking treats that feature pumpkin is a quintessential fall activity and a great way to bring your whole family together for some tasty snacks. You probably already know that pumpkin is a good source of vitamins that can help your grandchildren form strong bones as they grow, but did you know it has healthy aging benefits for you as well? According to MyRecipes, the plant contains a large amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help reduce your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration - both types of eye conditions that commonly affect older adults. Try some of these yummy baking recipes to warm your soul and embrace the fruit of the season.

1. Classic pumpkin bread

Bake this fall staple for a morning snack or after-dinner treat. The pumpkin and ginger mix together perfectly in this recipe from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then, combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Gradually add in the dry mixture into the wet and blend. Next, grease and flour three 7- by 3-inch loaf pans and pour the mixture into them. Bake for 50 minutes, let cool for a bit and then serve warm. A scoop of vanilla ice cream can turn this into the perfect dessert.

2. Pumpkin swirl

If you'd rather bake something less traditional, try this cake roll recipe from Taste of Home. It produces baked goods in long sticks that you can cut up and serve to your eager guests.

Cake ingredients

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling ingredients

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Additional confectioners' sugar, optional

Directions

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until they thicken, and gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and pumpkin. Mix it on high until sugar is almost dissolved. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form and gradually add the remaining sugar until the peaks harden. Fold into egg yolk mixture. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, and add it to the pumpkin mixture. Spread into a 15- by 10-inch baking pan lined with greased waxed paper, and bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Allow it to cool for five minutes and then place onto a surface that's been sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Peel off waxed paper and roll it in the towel like a jelly roll.

After you allow that to cool completely, make the filling by mixing the cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Unroll the cake and spread the filling evenly, leaving 1/2 inch of space between the edges. Roll it back up, cover it and keep it in the freezer until it's firm. If it becomes frozen, allow it to defrost for about 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

3. Pumpkin cream muffins

These pumpkin muffins from baking blog Something Swanky mixes pudding and pumpkin for an extra sweet kick that's sure to be a huge hit among your guests.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3.4 ounces JELL-O Instant Pudding Mix, pumpkin spice flavor
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Next, line a muffin tin with baking cups and spray each one with cooking spray. Whisk together the milk, oil, egg and pumpkin puree in a large bowl, and gradually mix in the flour, pudding mix, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Pour batter into cups, bake for 18-20 minutes and enjoy!