With pumpkin season being in full swing and Halloween coming up, I’ve been experimenting with sweet and savoury pumpkin dishes all week long. Living in a country where we don’t traditionally celebrate Halloween, our girls did carve their pumpkins – not into scary faces, though, but into their favourite cuddly animals (if you’d like to see what they are, I posted the result on our Insta-feed!).
What better way to use those jack-o’-lantern scoopings than as the base of this cheerful, gloriously orange pumpkin bread? More of a cake than a bread, this spiced pumpkin bake is the perfect way to treat youself and your loved ones to a bit of warmth on cold days. Prepping it takes only minutes; after that the oven does all the work, filling your kitchen with the lovely smell of autumn as an added bonus. And of course you don’t need a bowl of lantern scoopings as an excuse to make this wholesome and comforting treat. It’s completely worth it to make fresh pumpkin mash just for this purpose – just look below for a few effortless modes of preparation.
For this post I baked two different versions of the bread in order to find out which I liked best: a classic loaf using all-purpose wheat flour and a gluten free one, using a mixture of quinoa, whole-grain rice and almond flour. I have to admit, the result when opening the oven left me dancing in the kitchen! Both loaves were wonderfully risen and full-flavoured. The girls slightly favoured the somewhat denser structure of the classic loaf, which is the one shown sliced in the picture. I, on the other hand, loved the flavour and structure of the gluten free loaf, which had just the right level of moistness and crumbliness. Needless to say, both didn’t last long.
The batter is prepared with vegetable oil, maple syrup and eggs. If you’d like to make it vegan, the eggs can easily be replaced; just look below for tips.
The ingredients listed are enough to fill one regular loaf tin. I used the batter to bake mini loaves, not only because they just look adorable, but also because it was the perfect opportunity to use those cute mini loaf tins which were waiting impatiently in my cupboard. Sliced, the mini loaves yield portions to which you can guiltlessly help yourself a second – or a third, or a fourth… – time. Wrapped whole in parchment and foil they make a lovely seasonal gift.
Amazing pumpkin bread – yields 5 mini loaves or 1 regular loaf
- 120 ml vegetable oil (I used rapeseed oil)
- 80 ml maple syrup
- 100 g light sugar
- 2 eggs (see substitution tips below if you want to make this a vegan bread)
- 250 g unsweetened pumpkin puree (see tips below)
- 200 g flour
- for classic batter, choose 200 g all-purpose or whole-grain wheat flour
- for a delicious and nutricious gluten free version, mix
- 80 g quinoa flour
- 60 g whole-grain rice flour
- 40 g almond flour
- 20 g corn starch
- ½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda
- ⅟₄ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. each of cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice
- ⅟₄ tsp. salt
Heat the oven to 180oC/350oF/gas 4.
Lightly grease 5 mini loaf tins or 1 regular loaf tin and line with a strip of baking parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk the vegetable oil with the maple syrup and the sugar. Add the eggs and the pumpkin puree, then whisk until smooth.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, bicarb, baking powder, spices and salt. In two batches, stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared tin(s).
Bake until golden and risen. They’re done when a skewer poked into the centre comes out with only moist crumbs attached. Depending on your oven, for a regular loaf this will take about 1 hour; start checking for doneness after 45 minutes. Mini loaves will be done in under 45 minutes; start checking after 30 minutes – mine came out perfect after 35.
Leave to cool in the tin before slicing. The flavours improve when the cake is wrapped in parchment and foil and left to mature for a day or two – but if you can’t wait that long, it’s also delicious eaten right on the spot!
Comments on the pumpkin puree
Pumkins can vary a lot when it comes to flavour and sweetness. With this in mind, many recipes use canned pumkin mash for a predictable result. Since it’s pumpkin season and it would be a pity to waste the opportunity of using them while they’re at their best, I’d opt for freshly made puree whenever possible. Depending on the pumpkins used, though, it’s wise to check the batter for sweetness and adjust the flavouring if necessary.
This said, if you’re not using leftover mash from a previous cooking activity, here are some ways of creating the perfect fresh mash especially for this recipe:
- The microwave option:
The irregular scoopings of a Halloween pumkin are perfect for this one. Remove the seeds and threads and cut the flesh into coarse chunks. Tip them into a microwave-safe bowl, together with a splash of water. Cover with microwave film (or cling film with a few holes pierced into it). Microwave on high for 5-10 minutes until soft and mashable. Drain and mash, then leave to cool a little before combining with the eggs. This is the super-quick preparation mode I used for the loaves above; our Florfruits Halloween pumkin yielded 480 g of trimmed scoopings, which in turn yielded 250 g mash. Of course you can also use 450-500g of regular peeled and diced pumkin for this.
- The steaming option:
Tip the trimmed pumpkin scoopings or cubes into a sieve or steaming basket and place them onto a pan with simmering water. Steam the pumkin for about 15 minutes until soft; then mash.
- The oven-roasting option:
When using trimmed pumkin cubes or unpeeled pumkin slices, toss them with oil, spread them onto a lined baking sheet and roast them at 200oC/400oF/Gas 6 for 30-40 minutes. When using a whole pumkin or butternut squash, halve it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and threads and brush the flesh with a little vegetable oil. Place onto a baking sheet, cut-side up, and roast at 220oC/425oF/Gas 7 for about 45 minutes, until completely soft. Scoop out the flesh, mash and leave to cool. This method takes the longest, but adds a wonderful roasted flavour to the mash, plus the bonus of getting to treat yourself to lovely leftover mash for dinner!
Tips for making this bread vegan
To replace the eggs in the recipe, you can opt for
- flax eggs:
Mix 2 tbsp. (14 g) of ground raw flaxseed meal with 5 tbsp. (75 ml) water. Leave to thicken for 5 minutes, then use to replace the 2 eggs.
- chia eggs:
Using a food processor or mortar & pestle, grind 2 tbsp. of chia seeds into a meal. Mix with 5 tbsp. (75 ml) water, leave to thicken for 5 minutes, then use to replace the 2 eggs.