Pumpkin Bread, the P.K. Way (May Include Chocolate and Muffins)

Monday, November 4, 2013

As the tomato and corn season comes to a close here in New England, I’m finally ready to get on board with all the fall flavors, cranberry beans to Brussels sprouts, butternut squash to beets. To kick off the season, I roasted up my first sugar pumpkin and decided to bake a pumpkin bread  along with the millions of other people doing exactly the same thing. (Hey, I didn’t say it was original—but my recipe is.)

(The remainder of the roasted pumpkin will be going into my luscious Thai pumpkin soup with coconut, curry, and cashews, by the way. Click here for the blog post and cooking video if you’re into that kind of thing.)

I don’t yet have a go-to recipe for pumpkin bread that I love—like my unbelievable dark chocolate zucchini bread here—so I perused the interwebs for something to catch my eye. The number of recipes one can find online for pumpkin bread is just zany, yet all left me wanting in some way or another. First of all, most made multiple loaves, which I had no desire to do as I don’t like keeping sweets around the house. (It’s all fun and games until you’re eating frozen pumpkin bread directly out of the freezer). I also didn’t feel like using up all those pricey baking ingredients, or my roasted squash. (Leftover pumpkin purée freezes beautifully whether from fresh or canned—and you’ll be less tempted to pick at that rather than a frozen sweet bread, I imagine.) Recipes also varied greatly in the types and amounts of sugar (white or brown?) and fat (oil or butter?), spices (allspice and ginger and cloves, oh my!) and add-ins (galore). I took from here and there to create my own variation, which yielded one delightfully moist loaf studded with sweet chocolate and crunchy pecans.

(And five accidental muffins.)

PK’s Pumpkin Bread


  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ideally freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar (or light or dark brown sugar), packed
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups puréed pumpkin, fresh roasted (instructions here) or canned, no salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.  

Whisk together the flour, soda, powder, salt, and spices in a small bowl. Set aside. Beat the sugars and oil on high speed until combined, about 1 minute, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin, water, and vanilla and mix well, about another minute. (Mixture will be on the thin side.)

Stir chocolate and pecans together with 1/4 cup of the flour mixture to coat. (This is just to help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf when baking.) Next, add the remaining flour mixture, half at a time, beating just to combine after each, then add the flour-coated chocolate and walnuts.

Give the mixture a final stir with a spatula, ensuring all is incorporated, then spoon into the prepared loaf pan until it is a bit less than 3/4 full. Bake for about 55 minutes, until bread has risen and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Set on a rack for about 15 minutes then turn out and cool completely.

Note. I selected a medium size loaf pan (9x6x2.5 inches), which wasn’t big enough. I had leftover batter so I also made 5 small muffins. If you use a large loaf pan (10×6.3.5 inches, or bigger) all the batter should fit. (I think.) Muffins took about 27 minutes; use the toothpick test and also poke lightly with your index finger: if they spring back, they’re done. Turn out of the cups after cooling for 10 minutes.

I am so glad I no longer need to hunt down a recipe for pumpkin bread now that I have my own. If you’ve never had chocolate chips in pumpkin bread, prepare to love it, especially if you serve yourself up a piece while they’re still warm and melty. And don’t let the whole wheat flour fool you: white whole wheat is a strain of winter white wheat that has a much softer texture than red wheat, but with all the whole grain goodness. It’s readily available in supermarkets and fabulous in baking when working with big flavors like pumpkin and chocolate.


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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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