Pumpkin bread was not a known recipe in my family growing up. The only quick bread that ever made it to the oven was banana bread, with no additions, no variations. My introduction to pumpkin bread – and its simplicity to bake – came in junior high school home economics class (yep, I’m that old). We not only learned how to bake a quick pumpkin bread, but we also baked it inside the pumpkin puree can that we had brought to school for the lesson.
Pumpkin bread in a can
That was pretty cool, to bring home a pumpkin bread that looked like a can, made all by myself. We had been instructed to bring extra empty cans if possible, as one batch would fit in two or three cans. My mom was amazed, and I had a new love for experimental baking. And pumpkin bread.
There are plenty of places around the web that will show you how to bake in a can, even decorate the cans as gifts. If you want to turn quick breads into DIY Christmas gifts, here’s a good example of how to do it. (WARNING: not a vegan recipe in the link, just an example of DIY baking with cans!)
Balancing healthy and tasty in your pumpkin bread
I’m about the taste, and I’m here to give you my favorite recipe that I’ve developed over time. It calls for oil, which, yes I know, is not the healthiest choice. Yet as one of my favorite chefs Derek Sarno of Wicked Healthy Food fame says, “If you don’t think it’s healthy, don’t eat it and go make something else. But if you want to taste something that reminds me of my childhood, then this is the way to do it.”
With that, I've gone back to adding oil to my quick breads, and most often it will be coconut oil. You can use applesauce as a replacement if you want to be strict. But I love the lighter texture that you can get with the oil. If you want to go oil-free, just make sure you mix the batter as little as possible.
Baking pumpkin bread is a sweet smelling treat
The aroma of pumpkin bread baking makes the whole house feel toasty. When I was younger I preferred no added options in my quick breads. As I've grown older, I know how nutrient-packed huts and raisins are, so I like to include them – and they are a nice combination with the pumpkin and spices. This time I broke away from my traditional chopped walnuts and added chopped pecans. The pecans have a rich flavor similar to brown sugar – without the added processed sugar.
- 1 cup pumpkin or winter squash puree fresh or canned
- 1 cup (10-12) medjool dates soaked in one cup of water
- 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted (substitute applesauce for oil-free)
- 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp. water set aside for 15 mins.
- 3 Tbsp. orange juice, nut milk or water add sparingly if wet ingredients are too thick
- 1 cup baking powder
- 1 cup oat flour make with rolled oats in blender/processor
- 1/2 cup almond meal or flour nuts in the blender works
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
- 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
For treats or holiday gifts, pumpkin bread that everyone will love
I can never wait, and always dig in about 5 minutes after it’s out of the oven. Of course, it crumbles all over the place. I suggest letting it cool for an hour or so, letting the pumpkin bread set before cutting. The best is to cut it the next day, when the bread has had a chance to settle.
One thing to note about offering vegan baked goods to non-vegans: they do not always appreciate the effort. Yet this pumpkin bread is so filled with flavor that no one is going to miss the eggs. In addition, you can use nut milk for the water and liquid, but somehow I feel the orange juice is the secret here.
When my mom taught me how to make a big fruit salad for the first course at Thanksgiving, she pulled a carton of orange juice out of the refrigerator. With one finger tapping the side of the carton, she said, “Here, a few splashes of this is the key to a sweet fruit salad.”
I remembered her words as I started to bake. As it turns out, a few splashes of orange juice works great in pumpkin bread, too.