SPICED PUMPKIN BREAD

1/2 cup raisins - currants, or dried cranberries
3 cups dark brown sugar - firmly packed
1 cup unsalted butter - softened
4 large eggs - lightly beaten
2 cups pumpkin puree - canned (1 pound)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg - fresh
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup broken pecans or walnuts - lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 350? F. Pour boiling water over the raisins to cover and let them steep to plump up. Grease two loaf pans, each 9 x 5 x 3 inches; dust the sides with flour and shake out the excess.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Stir the eggs and pumpkin puree into the butter mixture.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir them into the pumpkin mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Drain the raisins well and stir them into the batter with the nuts.

Pour the batter into the two loaf pans and bake until the bread tests done, about 1 hour. Cool the leaves for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely on a rack.