Pumpkin breads are one of my regular bakes during the fall holiday season. They’re easy to make and always a crowd pleaser, whether you’re serving up slices at brunch with coffee or a treat after dinner with a scoop of ice cream. Like banana bread, I like to put different twists on basic pumpkin breads to keep things a little more interesting – and to make a good loaf even more delicious. These Pecan Upside Down Mini Pumpkin Breads are perfect for any fall occasion, with a topping of caramelized pecans that adds sweetness and crunch to every bite of the moist, tender loaves.
This recipe makes small pumpkin breads and you’ll get four loaves with 5.5 x 3-inch mini loaf pans. There are some smaller mini loaf pans out there that can also be used, but you’ll need to scale down the amount of topping and reduce the baking time slightly to suit a not-quite-standard pan. Remember that you can check any loaf for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the bread to see that it comes out clean! You can also scale this up into a full sized loaf, though I prefer the mini loaves because they provide such a good topping-to-bread ratio.
The pans should be lightly greased and I recommend lining the bottoms with a small piece of parchment paper to prevent any sticking. Next, spoon some brown sugar into the bottom of each pan, followed by a layer of pecans. You can use pecan pieces, but pecan halves will give you an even better finished look. I prefer to use toasted pecans because they have a deeper, richer flavor and untoasted nuts won’t have time to toast through completely during baking.
Once the topping has been set up in the bottom of each pan, you can prepare the pumpkin bread. It is spiced with cinnamon, ginger and cloves – all flavors commonly found in pumpkin pie spice mixes, which can be substituted for the spice trio if you happen to have some on hand. The batter for the pumpkin bread makes a moist, tender loaf with a nice balance of spice and pumpkin flavor. It’s actually a good all-purpose recipe on its own, but here it has a hint of brown sugar to tie in with the delicious topping.
The pumpkin breads should be allowed to cool completely before slicing to ensure that the topping has completely set. Cut each loaf into small slices using a serrated knife, which will cut cleanly through the sugary pecan layer. The breads are best within a couple of days of baking.
Pecan Upside Down Mini Pumpkin Breads
4 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup toasted pecans
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease four 5.5 x 3-inch mini loaf pan and line the bases with small pieces of parchment paper. Sprinkle 1 tbsp brown sugar into each pan, then spread 3 tablespoons (approx) of pecans over the sugar in an even layer that covers the base of the pan. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, egg, sugars, spices and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Add in the remaining flour mixture and whisk until almost all the flour is combined. Add in melted butter and whisk until batter is uniform.
Divide batter evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow bread to cool in the loaf pan for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 1 loaf.