Pumpkin definitely benefits from the use of a little spice. On its own, pumpkin is slightly sweet with a relatively mild flavor. It is good, but it doesn’t necessarily stand out strongly when used on its own. AS a result, we tend to use spices to keep pumpkin a little more interesting and give it a little more complexity. Now, pumpkin and spice are so intertwined that you rarely see pumpkin without at least a few spices to keep it company, and there is a spice blend dedicated to pumpkin pie and pumpkin desserts in the spice section of the grocery store.
This Pumpkin Spice Bread is intended to highlight the spices, leaving the pumpkin as a nice backdrop to tie them all together, to create a fragrant loaf that is a great choice for cool autumn or winter baking. It’s a bit like gingerbread, but without any molasses so it has a lighter overall feel. It uses cinnamon, ginger and cloves, which are all commonly paired with pumpkin. It also includes cardamom and allspice. Cardamom brings out a bit of brightness from the pumpkin, and the allspice ties in really well with the rest of the spices. The result is a moist, tender and spicy bread that is a little more complex than your average pumpkin loaf.
One other thing to like about this loaf is that it keeps very well for a couple of days when stored in an airtight container (or when well-wrapped with plastic wrap). The pumpkin keeps the bread moist, and the spices blend together as the bread sits, mellowing the individual spices into a nice overall combination. This bread is sweet enough to stand in for dessert if you want something simple, rather than a big cake, but I like it anytime, served with tea or coffee. It also holds up well to toasting and is tasty with butter or cream cheese at breakfast.
Pumpkin Spice Bread
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (any kind)
Preheat oven 350F and lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until well combined, then whisk in the pumpkin puree, butter and vanilla extract. Pour half of the dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix, then stir in the milk. Add in the remaining flour mixture and stir until just combined, making sure no streaks of flour remain. Pour batter out into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Turn loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf