You can baked a whole wheat pumpkin bread with this easy recipe that’s made with only whole wheat flour. Be sure to top it with cream cheese frosting made with browned butter!
The traditional pumpkin loaf cake is made with all-purpose flour to lead to a tender bread that still holds up well. One common baking substitution would be to replace the all-purpose flour with whole wheat. This works well in the recipe below, though you may notice that the resulting cake is a little more crumbly than with all-purpose flour. If you are unsure about baking with whole wheat flour, try replacing up to half the all-purpose flour in your favourite recipes to see how you like it before going further.
Like the pumpkin doughnuts, this quick bread was made with homemade pumpkin purée. I think this bread is delicious the way it is. The pumpkin ensures the pumpkin loaf cake will have a moist texture and the whole wheat flour gives it a nuttier flavour, accentuated by the delicious brown butter in the frosting.
Homemade pumpkin purée can be watery and lead to a milder flavour. For a more pumpkin forward taste, I suggest straining out the liquid if you are using homemade pumpkin purée from a roasted pumpkin and then cooking down that liquid. This way you concentrate the liquid. Mix the concentrate back into the purée and measure what you need for the recipe. If you are using canned pumpkin, you probably won’t have to do this because it should not be watery. Canned pumpkin will lead to a more orange-y pumpkin bread.
That moisture from homemade pumpkin purée may lead to a gummy layer on the bottom just like with banana bread because the cake doesn’t bake through. In general, always take the time to check if your cake is done baking using visual cues, touching the surface of the loaf gently to make sure it bounces back and feels set, and poking a skewer through the middle to make sure the loaf is baked in the centre.
If you need an eggless version that’s also dairy-free and vegan, try this healthier pumpkin bread.
The cream cheese frosting for this pumpkin bread is made with browned butter, but you can also just use softened butter, without browning it. I like the flavour the browning brings to the frosting. When making cream cheese frosting, remember that the order you mix the ingredients can have an impact on the final texture. To avoid making a runny cream cheese frosting, be sure to mix together the butter and icing sugar before adding the cream cheese.
Whole wheat pumpkin bread with cream cheese frosting
- 250 grams (2 cups) whole wheat flour
- 10 mL (2 tsp) baking powder
- 2.5 tsp (1/2 tsp) baking soda
- 7.5 mL (1½ tsp) ground cinnamon
- 5 tsp (1 tsp) Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) ground nutmeg
- 115 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter room temperature
- 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 5 mL (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract
- 250 mL (1 cup) pumpkin purée
Brown butter cream cheese frosting
- 58 grams (¼ cup) unsalted butter browned and cooled
- 260 grams (2 cups) icing sugar use more or less to obtain desired consistency
- 250 grams (1 cup) Philadelphia cream cheese (full fat, regular) Stick to this brand if possible!
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9×5-inch loaf pan by brushing it with melted butter, flouring, and lining the bottom with parchment. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside for later.
- In the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 115 grams of butter with the granulated sugar.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. Beat until well blended between each addition, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Mix in the pumpkin purée.
- With the mixer on low, add the whisked dry ingredients. Mix until just blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Transfer the batter tot he prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, testing the loaf with a cake tester to verify it’s done.
- Let the loaf cool for 20 minutes before unmolding on a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
Brown butter cream cheese frosting
- To prepare the frosting, in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cooled brown butter and the icing sugar, then incorporate the cream cheese. Mix just until you obtain a spreadable consistency.
- Spread the frosting generously over the top of the cooled loaf.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.