This easy recipe produces a moist, fluffy, and flavorful pumpkin bread with ribbons of cinnamon sugar inside and a crisp, craggly cinnamon crust.
IT’S PUMPKIN BREAD TIME
Oh baby, it’s finally baking season! I decided to welcome it the only way I know how: with 8 loaves of pumpkin bread.
I know, I know. I don’t need to spend the intro of nearly every post here detailing for you the level of obsession and… alright, let’s be honest– absurdity –that goes into my testing and creating of recipes, but I can’t help but lay out the facts. I’ve been diligent in my pursuit of the best pumpkin bread recipe. I’ve been patient. I’ve been clearing out my grocery store’s stock of canned pumpkin.
And what I discovered in the end was a tender-crumbed, perfectly-spiced, moist pumpkin bread that’s better than anything I’ve ever gotten from a cafe. Did I mention that it also has swirls of cinnamon-sugar inside and a snickerdoodle-style crust on top, as if to have discovered your deepest Fall-flavored fantasies? Because it does. And it’s even better than it sounds.
HOW TO MAKE MOIST PUMPKIN BREAD
Yes, I said it. The m-word that everyone loves to hate. It may not be the sexiest word to ever exist, but when it comes to pumpkin bread, “moist” is exactly what you want.
Here are the secrets I discovered (through trial-and-error) to getting perfectly moist pumpkin bread:
- Don’t wait until the toothpick comes out completely dry. We’ve all been told this all of our baking-lives, but a dry toothpick = dry bread. What you want is to not encounter any unbaked batter, but some moist crumbs clinging is a good thing. Remember, the bread will continue to set from residual heat as it cools.
- Opt for oil over butter. It might be counter-intuitive, but reach for the oil when you want a moist bake. Why? Oil is comprised of 100% fat, whereas most butter is just 80% fat. The rest is made up of milk solids (5%) and water (15%). Water seems like it would be ideal for a moist bake, but it will strengthen the gluten and evaporate out as you bake, resulting in a denser, tougher, dryer bread.
- Don’t pack down the flour. Do you usually take your measuring cup, dunk it into your container of flour, and scoop up your flour that way? Stop! That packs down your flour and messes up your measurements. Instead, scoop and spoon your flour into your measuring cup, which will prevent you from accidentally using too much (and winding up with a dry pumpkin bread!)
- Don’t forget the brown sugar. The molasses in brown sugar adds moisture and depth of flavor to baked goods, so it’s great to incorporate some into your pumpkin bread. Just don’t use too much or your bread will wind up completely brown (and that orange color is a must with good pumpkin bread, don’t you think?)
- Wrap in plastic wrap after baking. This ensures that the little bit of heat still coming off of the bread will stay contained in wrap, keeping the moisture trapped inside instead of evaporating out.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THAT CINNAMON SWIRL
A moist pumpkin bread is only half the excitement here. There’s also the swirls of cinnamon sugar inside (and the light coating on top) that really make your mouth water.
There’s no secret technique to getting it right. All you have to do is mix cinnamon and sugar together, then sprinkle it over the batter in layers before baking. You don’t have to swirl it. The way the batter rises as the pumpkin bread bakes will actually result in the wavy sort of design you see in the pictures here!
The only note I have to make is that you should definitely be sure to sprinkle most of your cinnamon-sugar on the inside layers of the pumpkin bread, not on top. When you put too much on top, it forms a sort of sheet of cinnamon and sugar that will make your bread look kind of funky (and it will be difficult to cut into). So in short, go conservative on the top and go wild between the inside layers!
MORE PUMPKIN RECIPES TO LOVE
- Pumpkin Crumb Muffins with Cream Cheese Glaze
- Smoky Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus
- Nutella Pumpkin Samoa Cookies
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
FOR THE BREAD:
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
FOR THE SWIRL:
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a large (9×5”) loaf pan and line with parchment paper, if desired.
- In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, oil, eggs, and sugars. Whisk until well-combined.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all of the spices. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until no streaks of flour remain.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon.
- Pour a third of the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth and distribute the batter gently with a spatula. Sprinkle over about 2 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Layer with another third of the batter and sprinkle, again, with about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Repeat one more for the top layer, making sure to smooth it well, and only use enough cinnamon-sugar to lightly sprinkle over the top.
- Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake the bread for 70 to 80 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out with only a few clinging, soft crumbs; and that same tester inserted about 1/2″ into the top of the loaf doesn’t encounter any unbaked batter. Don’t worry if there’s a bit of pumpkin bread on your tester. You want your pumpkin bread to be moist. Just be sure it’s not gloppy.
- Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes (or until cool enough to handle without damaging), then wrap in plastic wrap and let sit overnight or until ready to serve, for moister bread. Alternatively, let cool in the pan entirely and serve.