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Pumpkin season is finally here—time for lattes, pies, and cakes galore. One of the test kitchen's favorite fall snacks is pumpkin bread. From breakfast to dessert, this quick bread is the perfect bite any time of day. A good, homemade pumpkin bread should be moist, have a balance of spices, and be light rather than dense. To avoid the common mistakes, like a soggy bottom or bland flavor, that can happen with pumpkin bread, we asked assistant food editor Riley Wofford for her tips.
Achieving Moist, Airy Pumpkin Bread
What's the key to getting a moist, cakey pumpkin bread rather than a dense loaf? Wofford explains that a high ratio of eggs to sugar is key for airiness. Our pumpkin bread recipe calls for four large eggs to one cup of granulated sugar and one cup of brown sugar. The combination of the two sugars creates a light texture and molasses flavor, which complements the pumpkin. Our tip: Don't overmix the batter; mix just until incorporated, anything more and the pumpkin bread will be too chewy.
Using Room Temperature Ingredients
If all ingredients are at room temperature (eggs, butter, buttermilk, and canned pumpkin), the pumpkin bread will have a better texture and rise more consistently. Using room temperature ingredients also prevents the batter from breaking or forming small clumps and helps everything to become evenly incorporated.
Pure Pumpkin or Pumpkin Pie Filling?
Most pumpkin bread recipes call for canned pure pumpkin, but what if you have pumpkin pie filling sitting on your shelf? Can you use that instead? "Pumpkin purée is just pumpkin that has been cooked and puréed, with nothing added. Pumpkin pie filling has added sugar and spices. We always use pure pumpkin purée," explains Wofford.
Spice Is Nice
One of the easiest and most delicious ways to enhance the flavor of pumpkin bread is with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. But don't overdo it (follow the recipe!). "Sometimes pumpkin bread can be a little heavy on the spice," Wofford says. Another caveat about ground spices: use fresh ones not spices that have been sitting on your shelf for years. And when adding nutmeg to pumpkin bread, Wofford recommends using the freshly-grated spice rather than pre-ground.