Pumpkin Bread

October 25, 2014

At this time of year pumpkin is everywhere. My oldest son is a fanatic for Pumpkin Pie, but I wanted to give him an alternative to his favorite dessert. This bread is a quick bread (i.e. uses making powder/soda instead of yeast), and has all the traditional seasoning for a pumpkin pie. While the ingredient list is long, I had everything in my kitchen already. The recipe makes a wonderful seasonal alternative to banana bread. Surprisingly, my pumpkin-fanatical son only had two slices. Hmmm, go figure. Overall the recipe yields great pumpkin-pie-flavor, a moist interior with a perfect hint of sweetness on top. 4-stars.

Moist loaf of Pumpkin Bread

Moist loaf of Pumpkin Bread

IMPORTANT HALLOWEEN TIP. How to prevent squirrels from eating your pumpkins.


  1. Chris Kimball recommends two 8-1/2″ by 4-1/2″, but I think most people only have 9″x5″  loaf pans. The resulting loaves will be a bit squatter and will need to be check 2 to 3 minutes earlier.  I could only find 1 of the 2 necessary 9″x5″  loaf pans, so I substituted my Pullman loaf pan (18″x4″), which made one long loaf instead of two shorter ones. The substitution of pans lengthened the baking time by 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. While I recently made homemade pumpkin puree by roasted my own sugar pumpkin, today I used a can of Libby’s. One of the motivations of this recipe was to remove the raw, metallic flavor of canned pumpkin, so I wanted to test the effectiveness of that element of the recipe too. It worked.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $5.50.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time: 2:00 PM. Ready at: 5:00 PM.

The Cook’s Illustrated original recipe is here.  The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

Topping Ingredients:
5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (2 1/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Bread Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
15-oz can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1 cup packed light brown sugar (7 ounces)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4-oz cream cheese
4 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup walnuts (4-1/2 oz)

  1. To prepare the topping, add all the ingredients in small bowl. Use your finger to mix until well combined. It should resemble wet sand. Set it aside until Step 7.
  2. Cut your cream cheese into 12 pieces. Toast 1 cup walnuts an a small, dry skillet then chopped fine. Set aside.
  3. Set a rack to middle of your oven and pre-heat to 350-degrees. Grease two 8-1/2″ by 4-1/2″ loaf pans.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  5. Put a large saucepan over medium burner, add pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Cook and stir for 6 to 8 minutes until it is reduced to 1-1/2 cups. Remove saucepan from heat and add granulated and brown sugar, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, cream cheese. Stir until combined and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Use a whisk until there is no longer any visible cream cheese. It should appear homogenous.
  6. In another small bowl, whisk together the 4 eggs and 1/4-cup of buttermilk. Add into the saucepan with the pumpkin and whisk until combined. Fold in flour mixture from Step 4 until generally combined, but a few small lumps of flour are alright. Fold the chopped walnuts.
  7. Use a rubber spatula to evenly divide batter into the two prepared pans. Evenly sprinkle the topping from Step 1 over both loaves. Bake in the 350-degrees oven for 45 to 50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. If you are using 9″x5″ loaf pans, then you should star checking for doneness 5 minutes earlier.
  8. Allow bread to cool in the pans set on wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove bread from pans and allow to cool for another 1-1/2 hours. The bread can be served either warm or at room temperature.

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