Remember what I said before about pumpkin being the kind of fall you could eat? Well, it’s still true—only, OK, listen: this hasn’t just been any fall.

This year in Chicago, fall’s gone above and beyond. Literally. Yesterday was the third day in a row where temps soared into the 70s. Yes, you read that right: 70s! In late October! While the trees are already ten shades of orange and red! I went somewhere last night and had to take my sweater off, that’s how warm I was. It’s the kind of thing people talk about wherever you go—church, the grocery store, chatting on the phone—as if, no matter what your feelings or indifference about this crazy gorgeous season that transitions from the long daylight of summer into the snow and frost of winter, one thing remains, at least this year, at least where I live: autumn’s got your attention.

loaf of the BEST pumpkin bread

I guess the same could be said of many things, from football to TV shows to the pleasure of reading a good book: the die-hard lovers will take the good and bad alike. They’ll cheer for their losing team. They’ll watch when no one else is. That’s like me and fall: rain or sun, cold or warm, thick and thin, I’m already sold. It’s many of us and pumpkin, especially this time of year, when we can have the pancakes and the muffins and the carving and the Jack O’ Lanterns. But just like it’s more fun to watch a winning team and just like some Octobers are easier to love than others, some pumpkin recipes are more impressive, more endearing, more oh-my-gosh good.

Like the best pumpkin bread you’ll ever have for example.

pumpkin squash bread

I am so excited about this pumpkin bread. To put it another way, if pumpkin is fall, this pumpkin bread is these last few days of October. It is weather warm enough to mean no jacket. It is driving home with the windows open. It is comfort and daylight and the best of summer with the best of the months after, where the lawns are covered with crunchy leaves and you just step outside and feel the sun on your face.

It doesn’t last long, despite yielding two loaves, but that’s only because it tastes so good and maybe because that’s how the best things go. And over the next few days, as the weather returns to low 40s (or lower! did someone say snow?), I’m going to hold onto the last few slices, savor them the way I do October, and enjoy every bite.

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Recipes
Makes two large (what I did) or three small loaves

When I say this is the best pumpkin bread you’ll ever have, I mean it’s the BEST—and yes, I realize that since it has just as much squash as pumpkin, maybe pumpkin-squash bread would be a better description. Whatever you call it, you’re going to be amazed: moist, spiced, fragrant, FALL. And if you spread some organic cream cheese on top? Oh. Man.

2 cups Sucanat (or other sugar)
2/3 cup olive oil
1 cup cooked, mashed, fresh pumpkin
1 cup cooked, mashed squash (I used a red kuri)
4 large eggs
2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup dried cranberries (or fresh, or raisins)
2/3 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease two 9 X 5 or three 8.5 X 4.5 loaf pans. In a large bowl, stir together Sucanat, olive oil, pumpkin and squash. Beat in the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients together and then add them to the pumpkin-squash mixture alternately with the milk, stirring to blend. Fold in the cranberries and nuts, if using. Spread the batter into loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (check at one hour, if using the smaller loaf pans), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. the blissful baker

    pumpkin bread is one of my favorite fall treats. this looks fabulous!

  2. The Blue-Eyed Bakers

    Seriously, what’s with the heat!? We’re melting! We want sweaters and bowls of soup…we want fall! And we so want this bread…!

  3. Lan

    i love your enthusiasm for this autumn veg (it’s a vegetable, right?!), tho i can’t partake, it’s just not something i’ve ever warmed up to.
    it’s been rather balmy here in DC too and i am not complaining!

  4. Cate

    Pumpkin bread is one of my absolute favorites. I love that this recipe uses spelt flour!

  5. Anne Zimmerman

    Funny, I don’t like pumpkin pie, but pumpkin bread makes me swoon.

  6. Tim


  7. leslie

    i LOVE pumpkin bread, and though i don’t bake, um, ever, i have been thinking about a loaf often recently. this recipe is so, so my style with the spelt flour, squash, and olive oil, and the spices seem spot on. perhaps i’ll give this one a try!

  8. Maddie

    This would be so good for breakfast, alongside a mug of black coffee. Yum! I’ll be trying this one out, fo sho.

  9. Elia@Feed Your Sister

    This looks like a delicious recipe….could you just substitute the spelt flour for all purpose flour? Also could you replace the squash with another cup of pumpkin puree??

  10. Jess

    Hi there! The pumpkin bread that I’ve been making for years is very good, but I have to admit that I’m not sure it’s “the best pumpkin bread you’ll ever have.” If yours is, I have no choice but to try it! Cool that there’s squash in there, too. A few questions before I get started: I only have whole grain spelt flour on hand. Do you think it would work with all purpose white flour in place of the white spelt flour? And brown sugar instead of the sucanat? Finally, is this pumpkin bread more bready or cakey? Could I, for example, pop a couple of slices into the toaster and then anoint them with Irish butter? Thanks, Shannalee!

  11. redmenace

    I also use olive oil in pumpkin bread. It’s the absolute best! And, why wasn’t Chicago like that when I lived there? Brrr……..

  12. Shannalee

    blissful, thanks!

    Blue-Eyed, Ha! Well I can’t complain about the sun… however, today’s rain and chill would have been right up your alley! : )

    Lan, I know, I wasn’t either! Beautiful October!

    Cate, Me too!

    Anne, This one especially. Swoon. Worthy.

    Tim, Exactly!

    Leslie, I hope you do!

    Maddie, Oh that sounds so good!

    Ella, I definitely think those substitutions would work. Let me know how it goes for you!

    Jess, : ) I think the whole grain spelt might give it a slightly more coarse texture, but I think it’d still be good (and healthier!). Brown sugar would probably be fine instead of Sucanat. And as far as the texture – it’s the perfect blend of cakey and bready–moist and soft and just firm enough to hold in your hand. It might be hard to use them in the toaster, but you could definitely lay them in the oven for a quick toasting! Hope that helps!

    Redmenace, I know! Makes it so moist!

  13. Gemma

    Mmm. I am going to make this over the weekend!

  14. Shannalee

    Gemma, Yay!!

  15. Angela@spinachtiger

    I need to start baking with spelt. I love pumpkin so this caught my attention. Nashville is having very hot days still. Shorts. No sweaters, but I hear that’s changing this week. Tonight we finally turned off the air conditioning. So now it’s time to turn on the oven and make that BEST pumpkin bread.

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  17. Peggy

    I absolutely love pumpkin bread and I definitely agree with you that it basically equals fall for me!

  18. Heath

    The bread is in the oven, but i just realized that the cooking time (looks like) got deleted from the recipe on the post. I’ll figure it out today, but would you please add it to the post? Thanks! And i’ll let you know how it turns out…!

  19. Shannalee

    Angela, That is the difference between Nashville and Chicago: while you’ve just turned off the A/C, we just TURNED ON HEAT, ha!

    Peggy, Exactly!

    Heath, Oh dear, thank you SO MUCH for coming back here to tell me that. You’re right, that info was missing, and i have updated the post accordingly. In case this reaches you in time–1 hour and 15 minutes for the two loaf pans, 1 hour and watch it if you use three. Hope you love it!

  20. Heath

    Oooo – Thank you, will go adjust the time now! Update to follow.

  21. GretchenJoanna

    I understand that spelt flour doesn’t absorb as much moisture as wheat, so if you are substituting regular unbleached flour for the spelt, you might not need quite as much.

  22. Shannalee

    Heath, Great!

    Gretchen, Interesting! In this case though, the original recipe did not use spelt flour, so I think it’s safe to use all-purpose for their tested results. Thanks for the comment!

  23. Heath

    Well, the bread is gorgeous and fragrant and darn good – even WITHOUT the 4 eggs! Eek, note to self, baking is not a smart activity for those still in the fog of illness! Luckily, it didn’t seem to matter, which astounds me! Thank goodness for that 2/3 cup olive oil.

  24. Heath

    i read somewhere early on when i was switching from all-purpose flour that a cup of all purpose weighs 5 oz. I’ve baked by weight (v/s volume) ever since. It make substitutions very simple.

  25. Susan

    I love pumpkin bread.

  26. Shannalee

    Heath, AHAHA that totally sounds like something I would do!

    Susan, Me too!

  27. Delishhh

    So where was this recipe a few weeks ago. I could not find a good pumpkin bread recipe and i ended up doing trial and error which took a few batches to figure out. I ended up creating a great recipe but since then i haven’t made the bread. I really like your version though, so i might just have to try it out.

  28. Dana

    Pumpkin bread! So good!

    The pumpkins round these parts have been very very wet this season, do you think the recipe would do alright with somewhat sponge-y pumpkin?

  29. Shannalee

    Delishhh, Aw, well at least you have it now!

    Dana, Good question – personally, I always use pie pumpkins to make my puree, and I’ve never used any but the ones in the midst of the season. So I guess the best answer I can give you is maybe? If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  30. betty

    this looks great thanks for sharing :O)

  31. Shannalee

    Thanks for reading, Betty!

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  34. Joanna

    Shanna, you won’t read this until after you come back from your honeymoon (!), but it’s the day before your wedding and I just pulled two loaves of this pumpkin bread out of the oven. We’re taking them on our road trip to Chicago to see you wed. What a glorious day!

    All love,

    1. Shannalee

      oh, I read it–and loved it. : ) looking forward to seeing you guys!

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