Make Ahead

Pumpkin Christmas Bread

December  5, 2010
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

We don’t fuss with fancy breakfasts on Christmas. After all, there are more important jobs to attend to that morning, like opening presents. So at our house, we always have this pumpkin bread to nosh on. I’ve adapted this recipe from one I received from my friend Heather. The original made 3 loaves. I adjusted the quantities and spices to suit my taste and one loaf pan. Fair warning, the bread is highly addictive. It’s perfect spread with softened butter, or some fig jam, or softened cream cheese, or just plain nekkid. - mrslarkin —mrslarkin

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: The Pound Ridge Scone Lady herself, mrslarkin -- a woman who knows her way around a kitchen.
WHAT: An eggless (!), dairyless (!) loaf cake for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert...
HOW: Dump, stir, bake.
WHY WE LOVE IT: In her testing notes, aargersi called this pumpkin bread "magic" -- and she's right. It's soft, it's tender, it's sweet, it's spicy, it's got height, it's got everything we want in a loaf cake. It's so good that two Food52-ers specifically recommended it. Plus, it makes a great edible gift -- it is both portable and scalable. Just make sure to make an extra (or two!) for yourself. —Food52

  • Serves 4 - 8
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 10 ounces pumpkin puree (just over a cup-full if you're measuring and not weighing)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray one large loaf pan, about 9" x 5", with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together first seven ingredients. In another bowl, blend the remaining ingredients together.
  3. Combine all ingredients and stir well until smooth. (It is a thick batter!) Spoon into loaf pan and lightly smooth out the top with a spatula.
  4. Bake about 1 hours and 15 minutes, or until cake tester comes out dry and clean. Cool thoroughly. It'll seem like the loaf doesn't want to come out. Just give it a few good slaps on the bottom of the pan, and it'll come right out.
  5. Great to bake ahead and freeze. Wrap in plastic, then foil. Defrost at room temperature.
  6. If you'd like to make three large loaves, triple the ingredients, use a 29 ounce can of pumpkin puree, and mix in a great big bowl. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. This full recipe can make 7 mini loaves (3" x 6" mini loaf pans). Bake the mini loaves for an hour.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Barbara Leonard
    Barbara Leonard
  • Adrienne
  • Alisa Raley
    Alisa Raley
  • Claire Hoyt
    Claire Hoyt
  • nannydeb

124 Reviews

spatula-bob February 11, 2021
I was looking for a low fat, cozy winter dessert recipe, and this did not disappoint! I used EVOO in place of vegetable oil and did opt for walnuts. I used a glass Pyrex loaf pan coated in a misting of olive oil spray.

It turned out great. I think the loaf is particularly good served with something creamy. To keep it vegan, I served it with a small scoop of vanilla Oatly (oatmilk) ice cream, but for morning or alongside coffee I think it would be great spread with cream cheese.
Jennifer G. November 30, 2020
This recipe got a rare dual thumbs up from both my husband (sugarphobe) and daughter (sugarphile). We roasted our halloween pumpkin and used that. It worked beautifully - it wasn't entirely pureed so you get an occasional chunk of pumpkin.
Barbara L. October 30, 2020
What a great simple, satisfying recipe...I reduced white sugar to 1/2 cup, added 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup toasted walnuts - then filled 12 muffin tins and baked fo 40 min. Yum!
missshar August 4, 2020
I made this yesterday but the batter turned into a literal dough. I ended up adding some almond milk to loosen the batter a little. I'm just wondering how thick it's supposed to be. It still turned out amazing! Any advice would be appreciated.
Author Comment
mrslarkin August 4, 2020
It’s a VERY thick batter. I would not add more liquid. Just keep stirring!
missshar August 8, 2020
Thank you! I have lots of pumpkin puree leftover so I'll definitely try it again :)
mbobden June 4, 2020
I am wondering if a stand mixer will make quick work of mixing the wet/dry ingredients as it's such a thick batter? By hand, this requires substantial mixing and therefore "overworking" the batter. I suspect this is why my cake didn't get quite the rise I would have liked or as well a rise as pictured here on the recipe. Any thoughts on this or perhaps a "trick" to mixing this thick batter that has been successful for you.
Author Comment
mrslarkin June 5, 2020
Sure! A stand mixer would do the job! I’d use a low setting.

When I mix by hand, I use a wooden spoon and stop when the last bit of flour is incorporated.
mbobden June 4, 2020
This loaf made a vegan friend very happy! Am wondering if I can replace the 10oz pumpkin with mashed banana and make a vegan banana loaf?!
Author Comment
mrslarkin June 4, 2020
I haven’t tried it w banana but I’d totally give it a shot. Maybe drain the mashed banana first and mix w a bit of lime juice to keep it from turning very brown.
Holly January 22, 2018
Oh, mrslarkin: I had huge reservations about this recipe as I scooped the concoction into the baking pan. Shame on me!!!!!
Dee January 7, 2018
Great recipe for pumpkin bread. Knock it out of the park by adding cardommon, golden raisins, juice & zest of one orange and a tbs of Grand Mariner. Deelish! Freezes nicely also.
Adrienne December 17, 2017
A nice easy recipe. I used muffin tins and they took 35 min to bake to perfection. Next time I’ll up the spice content based on my own obsession with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Thanks for this one!
Rachel November 29, 2017
Awesome vegan recipe. For a little extra lift throw in a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar. Lining the pan with parchment made for easy removal and clean storage. I used beet sugar and molasses since I don’t buy brown sugar, I also cut the sugar by 10% to 180g, next time I’ll try just 150g. I like the texture you get with a generous amount of toasted walnuts. Thanks for putting this recipe up! Happy baking!!
noknok November 19, 2017
Here are gram weights for those who need them:
245g AP flour
200g granulated sugar (I used 150g)
65g light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
(I also added 3/8 tsp salt and 1 TBS ground flax seed and 100g ground pecan)
80ml vegetable oil
300g pureed pumpkin
(mine was really dry, so I added 60g full fat yogurt to wet ingredients)
Bake at 160'C and start checking at the 1h mark. Mine was totally & perfectly done by then.

Our family loved this (including my son, who says he hates the entire squash family!) - with my adjustments, it's not too sweet and great for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

There is no pureed pumpkin where I live, so I roasted a kuri squash for 45m (quartered and baked at 200'C, then ran it quickly through a food processor). It may have been drier than normal pumpkin puree, which may account for the need for extra wet ingredients.
Jeremy W. November 16, 2020
When you add yogurt to a vegan recipe O__O
Kt4 December 27, 2020
You respond as if only vegans use vegan recipes. And as if "vegan" has only 1 definition for everybody.
Noknok posted what worked for them. You don't need to be critical of that no matter what your opinion is.
Oyin W. October 26, 2017
A great recipe for my son's toddler class. Split the recipe into 3 mini loaf pans and baked for 50 minutes. I didn't see M.B's comment on possibly adding a little salt. Not a bad idea for the next time.
Marie B. November 5, 2016
I made this today exactly as written. I wanted to try it because I have a vegetarian friend who doesn't eat eggs and I'm always on the lookout for delicious recipes I can share with her. This is quite good, but it's missing something. I think I've figured it out. There's no salt. I will make it again, but next time I'll add somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp of salt. Otherwise, I agree with other tasters who raved about this.
Alisa R. December 5, 2015
Need something quick (like tonight.. eek!) with what i have on hand and this sounds great! Only problem... i dont have my loaf pan. Any idea how it would bake up if i use a quiche pan or 8x8" square? Thanks for any help!
Author Comment
mrslarkin December 6, 2015
Hmmm...not sure! But I would give it a try. Check doneness with a skewer, and start checking at half hour mark. Let us know!
Sofia November 26, 2015
The bread itself was delicious and had a great texture, but it didn't rise at all! Any idea what I may be doing wrong?
Author Comment
mrslarkin November 26, 2015
Hmmm. I don't know, other than maybe the baking soda was expired?
Sofia November 26, 2015
Maybe... I'll be sure to buy a new box before making this again then :D
Laurelb October 15, 2015
Fabulous. Wouldn't change a thing. Everyone loved it.
Claire H. October 12, 2015
Well. This was the BEST pumpkin bread I've ever made. Added some chocolate chips per the hubbies request - though it would have been splendid without. It had so many caramelized edges....Wow, just wow!
nannydeb December 24, 2014
This was perfect for our vegan neighbors for Christmas! Thanks!
Marian B. November 27, 2014
i was so excited to get to my sister's house for thanksgiving and find that she had made this loaf! She cut the sugar to just 1/2 C brown, I think, and added chocolate chunks instead of nuts, because we are a chocolate family. Everyone is asleep and I just ate another slice and I am happy.
jakestavis November 23, 2014
This is a great recipe and is easily adaptable -- I used fresh kabocha squash, which I simmered in milk for 15 minutes, drained, and pureed instead of canned pumpkin. Also subbed the cloves/cinnamon/nutmeg for 1 tsp of garam masala, for a sort of spicy sweet mix. Delicious!