Give Fall a big, warm and welcoming hug with a loaf of Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Bread. It’s a classic to savor during the chilly months, and it’s made just a touch healthier with whole-wheat flour, rolled oats, and unrefined sugar.
Leaves! Are! Changing! Colors!
Fall has definitely arrived, and I’ve arrived in Minnesota just in time to breathe in the crisp chilly air, to watch the gold, orange, and red leaves gracefully float their way down to the ground, and to bundle up as the temperature drops all at the same time. Why did I ever live in a state without seasons, especially Fall?
Today marks the end of my first week here in Minnesota and, believe it or not, I’m getting a wee bit antsy in this unfamiliar period of unemployment. My work schedule went from 60 to 0 MPH in a matter of (what felt like) seconds, and I’m not yet accustomed to this slow pace. And I’m really not equipped with the patience I need in the job-searching process. (HIRE ME. I’M SKILLED. Thank you.) Yeah, I’ve definitely cried once or twice as the feelings of insecurity and inadequacy surfaced. I felt those while I was in school, here and there, but then I’d pass another test, run to go watch the sunset over the ocean, or call up my best girl friends and the feelings would subside. Easy peasy.
Except now I have no tests to take, no beach sunset to watch (though, the sunsets are still beautiful here), and no close-by girl friends to call up and ask for a bottle of wine and some quality company. What’s a girl to do! What in the world does a girl who loves to read and write and cook and bake to do when she’s got lots of peaceful time alone at home with a big open kitchen begging for some usage…
She gathers her list of Fall recipes, ties on her apron, and gets to work. The Fall baking list should always kick off with pumpkin bread. Apple-studded goodies follow close behind, but its pumpkin first. Always pumpkin first, my friends.
Before I actually begin baking, I conduct research. And that’s my fancy term for spending hours digging through culinary magazines and websites for recipes to compare to help guide me to come up with my own. It’s the free version of culinary school, I think. I’ve never made a pumpkin bread before, or at least not since I can remember, so this all felt relatively new to me. Kind of like the fact that I should now get used to snow and 40-degree weather as early as mid-October. Bring it on, Minne-snow-ta. I can handle you and your chill.
After the hours I spent researching pumpkin recipes - broken up with short periods of distraction that involved Pinterest, online shopping, and adding more Fall-y baked goods to the list - I resorted back to my trusty banana bread recipe. Mashed banana and pumpkin purée are basically fraternal twins, which makes the conversion pretty simple. You should know, however, that pumpkin does have a slightly higher water content than banana, so that’s why you’ll see I’ve added rolled oats to help absorb that extra moisture. And the honey and oil serve to bring additional sweetness, since pumpkin is not nearly as naturally sweet as a banana, and tenderness, because no one wants a slice of dry pumpkin bread. That’s just wrong.
Start Fall on the right foot. Step into the kitchen on a chilly day and make yourself some pumpkin bread!
Makes 1 loaf, about 6-8 slices
2 pasture-raised eggs
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup pure honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup neutral oil (I recommend olive or avocado oil)
1 15-oz can pumpkin purée
1/2 cup whole-milk kefir
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats, plus extra for garnish
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 handful of pumpkin seeds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease, using the neutral oil, a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
Combine the wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the 2 pasture-raised eggs, coconut sugar, honey, and oil until smooth and homogenous. You’ll want to whisk on high-speed for at least 3-5 minutes using a stand-mixer or hand-mixer, as this will incorporate air into the mixture and help provide structure for the loaf. When the mixture turns a deep amber color, you’re probably done mixing.
Next, add the whole-milk kefir and pumpkin purée to the wet ingredients and whisk until well incorporated.
Stir together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking powder and baking soda, and spices. Slowly scoop the dry mixture into the wet and mix after each addition, careful not to over-mix, as doing so will toughen the bread. You’ll know you’re done mixing when the batter contains no visible lumps of flour.
Transfer the batter to the greased loaf pan and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, rolled oats, and sprinkling sugar (if you have it). Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until a toothpick poked through the center comes out clean. Be patient - this loaf will take at least 65 minutes to bake because of all the moisture, but it’s so worth the wait!
Remove the loaf from the pan when it’s finished baking and allow it to cool completely in the loaf pan. This will finish the baking process and ensure that the loaf is easier to remove from the pan.
When you’re ready to slice it, run a sharp knife along the edges of the loaf pan to help release the bread. Cut a slice off the end, pull it out, and use this space to pull the rest of the loaf out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice and enjoy!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.