Inner-Conflict Pumpkin Bread

Summer becoming fall finds spices — and emotions — swirling in the air.

Image by Author.
  • Cinnamon: 2 t
  • Ginger: 1 t
  • Clove: 1/2 t
  • Cardamom: 1/2 t
  • Sugar: 1/3 c (2.5 oz) plus 2 t
  • Brown Sugar: 2/3 c (5.3 oz)
  • Kosher Salt: 1 t
  • Baking powder: 1 1/2 t
  • Baking soda: 1/2 t
  • Nutmeg (whole, or mace)
  • Pumpkin (canned): 1 c (8 oz)
  • Eggs: 2
  • Flour (all-purpose): 2 c (10 oz)
  1. Use the remaining 1 T soft butter to thoroughly grease your loaf pan.
  2. Combine the ground spices. Set one teaspoon of this mixture aside in a small container.
  3. In an amply-sized mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, baking powder and soda, and the main amount of ground spices (1 T). Grate a little nutmeg over the bowl (or skip it, or use a pinch of mace, if you happen to have that). Use your hands to ensure that *all* of the brown sugar is broken up — do not leave any lumps as they will be nearly impossible to mix later. Once this mixture is homogenous, you are ready to proceed. Make the center of the mixture lower than the edges.
  4. Into the depression at the center of the bowl, add the pumpkin and two eggs. Use a whisk to gently combine this in its place, and once the eggs are broken up, whisk everything in the bowl together.
  5. Carefully add the brown butter, and use your whisk to stir it gently into the contents of the bowl. Once it’s mostly incorporated, whisk until everything is smooth and uniform. (Isn’t that smell just divine!?) Retire your whisk.
  6. Add the flour, and use a rubber spatula to fold the mixture together; do not “mash” or stir vigorously. Mix until barely combined — indeed a few dry spots here and there are just fine and will bake out.
  7. Scrape the contents of the bowl into your loaf pan and smooth it (reasonably).
  8. Combine the 1 t reserved spices with the remaining sugar, and sprinkle this evenly across the top of the loaf.
  9. Bake for 55–70 minutes, checking first at 30 minutes, then after 15 more, then as often as you feel necessary *just* until a skewer comes out clean.
  10. Cool for a while in the pan, then gently remove to a rack; it may need some loosening on the sides but it should not give you too much trouble in the release.
  • This is excellent with a ginger and/or maple and/or bourbon glaze atop the whole loaf, and / or with cream cheese frosting spread on each slice.
  • I find testing with a bamboo or wood skewer (or cake-tester, if you’re fancier than me) particularly helpful here. The very long baking time requires frequent checking near the end to avoid overbaking.
  • I found myself re-testing this recipe in Denver, after writing it at sea level, so I figured I’d include the high-altitude variations: From the batter recipe, remove 1 T sugar, reduce the baking powder to 1 1/4 t and eliminate the soda altogether, add one egg, and use an extra 2 T flour. Bake at 375°F and start checking around 30"; mine took 50 minutes. Perfect.

Pastry Chef, Author, Consultant, Founder of Melt Bakery, Level 6 Food Nerd

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