Of all pumpkin treats, pumpkin bread is my favorite. Specifically, my heart belongs to this vegan pumpkin loaf. After baking a batch I have to give the loaves away so I don’t go crazy sneaking off with slices throughout the day. It’s one of those recipes you make to confirm to yourself that fall has arrived.
This recipe started out as Piper Davis’ pumpkin bread from her excellent cookbook, The Grand Central Baking Book. Eventually, I veganized it by replacing the eggs with ground flaxseed, plus a few other tweaks. It’s been my go-to recipe for years. It’s a bit sweeter and cakier than other pumpkin breads, and it reminds me of the slices they sell at Starbucks—except moister. I love it with a cup of coffee.
THE BEST PUMPKIN TO USE IN PUMPKIN BREAD
I use canned pumpkin purée. Yes, you can use homemade pumpkin purée, but to be frank, canned pumpkin is unfailingly better and it’s way less work. This recipe uses one whole small can of pumpkin so you don’t have to fret over how to use up a lingering few tablespoons.
Do not use canned pumpkin pie mix, which has spices and sugar already added to it.
HOW TO REPLACE EGGS IN VEGAN BAKING
Eggs play an important role in giving quick breads structure. To make this vegan quick bread, you have two simple plant-based options that help bind the batter and lend the same cakiness that eggs would.
Flaxseed: Ground flaxseed makes a gel when you mix them with water. This gel acts as an egg replacer to add structure to cookies, cakes, and quick breads. They’re a trusty ingredient in vegan baking. You can find flaxseed in the natural food aisle of most grocery stores. They have a short shelf life, so it’s best to keep them in the freezer.
Aquafaba: You likely have a can of beans in your pantry, which means you have an existing alternative to a flax egg! Aquafaba is a fancy name for the liquid in a can of chickpeas. Yes, the stuff we usually tell you to drain and rinse off—turns out that goopy bean juice is a fantastic egg replacer.
- To use aquafaba as an egg replacer in this recipe, just add 1/2 cup of the liquid from a can of beans and omit both the water and the ground flaxseed. Liquid from chickpeas works best, but I’ve also used the liquid from canned kidney beans and white beans and had success. Aquafaba stores for up to a week in the fridge, but you can also freeze it in ice cube trays for easy portioning. Pop the frozen cubes out of the tray and store in a zip-top bag.
SPICE SWAPS AND MIX-INS FOR VEGAN PUMPKIN BREAD
Out of an ingredient, or want to get creative? You can play with spices and mix-ins for different flavor directions.
- Add up to 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.
- Add up to 1 cup vegan chocolate chips. (Many popular semisweet chocolate chips have milk and butterfat.)
- Add up to 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries.
- Add up to 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger.
- Replace the spices in the recipe with 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder. (I’m currently really taken with this version.)
- Use 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice instead of the spices in the recipe.
PUMPKIN BREAD SUGAR SWAPS
The amounts of white and brown sugar here are not set in stone. You can tailor it to your liking.
- Use all white sugar. The flavor of the pumpkin and spices will come through more.
- Use all brown sugar. Your pumpkin bread will have more of a gingerbread flavor.
- Replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with maple syrup. Using only maple syrup will overwhelm the other flavors.
- Reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup. The bread won’t be as moist and tender, but if you prefer less sweet desserts, it’s worth a go.
FLOUR SWAPS FOR PUMPKIN BREAD
Feel free to swap the all-purpose flour with any of the following. I’ve made this bread all the following ways, and the texture and flavor remain essentially the same.
- White whole wheat flour for all the all-purpose flour.
- Whole wheat pastry flour for all the all-purpose flour.
- Spelt flour for all the all-purpose flour.
- Half all-purpose flour and half regular whole wheat flour.
CAN I MAKE GLUTEN FREE PUMPKIN BREAD?
I wouldn’t recommend making this pumpkin bread gluten-free. This particular recipe makes a dense batter, and for it to work as a gluten-free loaf, it would need eggs for added structure. If you use only gluten-free flour in this bread, it will be very dense and gluey.
CAN I MAKE MUFFINS, MINI LOAVES, OR A SINGLE LOAF?
Sure! This recipe will yield at least two dozen muffins, or six 5 1/2 x 3-inch mini loaf pans. (I particularly like the way this batter rises in mini loaves, plus they are convenient for giving to friends.) You can also bake this in a standard-size Bundt pan or halve the recipe and make a single loaf.
THE BEST WAY TO FREEZE VEGAN PUMPKIN BREAD
I actually prefer this bread after it’s been frozen and thawed. After freezing and thawing, the texture and flavor of this bread improves; it becomes moister and cakier, and it slices more neatly.
To freeze: Wrap cooled loaves in plastic wrap, then in foil. Freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or on the counter for three to four hours (no need to unwrap).