Back on Track with Classic Pumpkin Bread & Desi’s Spiced Maple Pecan Butter

As I shared in my last post, nothing was going well in my kitchen yesterday. First, I tried an alternative pumpkin bread recipe that was grain free and also contained flax seed and chia gel (in addition to eggs). Then I made some cupcakes that I’d made previously that were okay, but not great. I thought I could adjust the recipe to improve the texture and make the cupcakes dairy free and sugar free. Carol (Simply … Gluten Free) shared an insightful comment in response to yesterday’s post. She said “I believe we learn more from our failures than our triumphs. Simple statement, but a powerful truth—both for time spent in the kitchen and for life in general, don’t you think?

Badge for Pumpkin Series, gluten free, dairy free, pumpkin, recipes

I hadn’t felt particularly great about either of the recipes, but I’d forged ahead anyway. For the cupcakes, I was trying to seize upon the fun of gluten-free cupcakes for Halloween. I have Halloween cupcake liners that have been sitting unused in my pantry for years, just waiting for the perfect recipe. With a design of bats and pumpkins, they could bring such joy to those eating some delicious cupcakes.

Cupcakes have been the “in” fun thing for a while now and the authors from two of my favorite blogs have cupcake cookbooks coming out in Spring 2011. Elana’s new book is Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour (which can pre-ordered here). You can read more about Pete and Kelli’s book at their blog, No Gluten, No Problem, here. One must remember that Elena and Pete and Kelli all must bake cupcakes non-stop for months prior to the publication of these cookbooks—with failures as well as successes. I only gave that reality any thought after my failure. Honestly, I was just kind of rolling the die on the cupcake recipe I wanted to adapt. I didn’t have a strong feeling that my ideas would work in this case. I added some gluten-free flour to balance out the fact that these cupcakes had been way too moist in the original version. I also made a dairy-free, sugar free version of condensed milk for the first time to use in this recipe. Or, maybe I should say “tried” to make a new version of condensed milk. I kept waiting for the combination of ingredients to thicken appropriately, tasting as I went. Neither the thickness nor sweetness necessary for winning cupcakes were there, but I kept going anyway. The baked results looked fairly good and the toothpick test worked, but one bite indicated the cupcakes were not a success. The results were more like mousse cakes and not good mousse either.

For the other recipe—the alternative bread—the formulation had seemed doubtful to me, but the reviews had been good, so I forged ahead. Again, I didn’t listen to my inner voice. I really wanted to share a grain-free bread that I’d adapted to be even better for Linda’s Create A Quick Bread challenge. I hadn’t wanted to take the easy way out and use a recipe that I’d been using for years with success. In hindsight, this was silly. I should have just shared what I wanted to from the beginning … my pumpkin bread (perhaps adapting it a bit to meet the “create” criteria). I say “my” pumpkin bread, but this is a recipe I got from a dear friend back when I was in college. (I know she had gotten it from someone else, so I don’t know the original source.) I just converted the recipe to be gluten free shortly after I went gluten free in 2003. The conversion was quite easy; I just replaced the all-purpose flour with my gluten-free all-purpose flour blend and added some xanthan gum.  This bread remains a family favorite. Son will be home again this weekend and I know he’ll gladly grab a loaf on the way out the door!

spiced maple pecan butter, nut butter recipe

I was so happy myself to see four loaves of my pumpkin bread cooling on the top of the stove that I snapped a few pictures. In disarray or all lined up, the sight of these loaves of pumpkin bread made me happy! For breakfast this morning, I enjoyed a slice topped with some of Desi’s (The Palate Peacemaker) Spiced Maple Pecan Butter. That combination was a really nice way to start the day … flavorful, light pumpkin bread with sweet tender crumbs and just a little touch of pumpkin pie, maple, and pecan flavor. This breakfast certainly made me quickly forget the baking foibles of yesterday! 

Classic Pumpkin Bread
  • ⅔ cup shortening (I use butter; either non-dairy or dairy)
  • 2⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin or 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 3⅓ cup all-purpose gluten-free flour mix*
  • 1½ tsp xanthan gum (optional, but read notes)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice, ¼ tsp allspice)
  • ⅔ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
  • ⅔ cup raisins (optional)
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 x 5 x 3 (or four smaller) loaf pans.
  2. In large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Stir in eggs, pumpkin, and water. Blend in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and spice(s). Stir in nuts and raisins (if used).
  3. Pour into loaf pans. If using large loaf pans, bake about 70 minutes or until done. If using smaller loaf pans (as shown), bake 45 to 50 minutes.
  4. Test for doneness using toothpick. Let sit in pan for about 10 minutes before removing to cool.
While I try to stick to flourless and crustless with limited use of gluten-free flour, the all-purpose gluten-free flour mix I’ve been using for some time (mostly because I can't tolerate some of the healthier grains) is as follows: 3 parts Asian white rice flour and 2 parts cornstarch. I gently mix three one-lb bags of the Asian white rice flour and two one-lb boxes of cornstarch in a very large bowl and then store the mix in several airtight containers (like large glass jars). No refrigeration is needed. Feel free to use whichever flour mix you use most often for baking. Recently, I’ve been adding some healthier flours to my baking and doing okay with them, so I usually add in at least a cup of brown rice flour or millet flour and then make the rest of the measurement the all-purpose gluten-free flour mix.

I’m pretty sure that coconut/palm sugar would work well as a substitution for the granulated sugar. Because the flavor of coconut/palm sugar is more intense, a slightly lesser amount might be acceptable. Today I was out of xanthan gum. The bread still came out great without it when making these smaller loaves. It was perhaps a tad crumbly, but not enough to be a problem. Just be sure to let the loaves cool adequately before removing.

Note that I'm not sure if a larger loaf would be more crumbly without xanthan gum. Smaller loaf pans allow me to make four loaves, which is great for gift giving during the holidays, sharing a loaf at the office, sharing a loaf with my parents, etc. Sometimes, I’ll make one large loaf and two smaller ones. We keep the large loaf and I give away the small loaves or freeze them to give later.

Last, if you don't have time to make loaves, use the recipe to make cupcakes/muffins instead. Baking time should be about 20 to 25 minutes for conventional sized muffins. Test for doneness with a toothpick.


Tomorrow’s recipe is cooking in the slow cooker right now. I feel good about it though! Check out other Pumpkin Pie Plus … entries:

Monday~Pumpkin Pie Smoothie with Honey Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Tuesday~Making Pumpkin Puree and Well-Tested Recipes

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Newylweds Blog Pumpkin Linkup, Gluten-Free Tuesdays, and Allergy-Free Wednesdays.

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29 Responses to “Back on Track with Classic Pumpkin Bread & Desi’s Spiced Maple Pecan Butter”

  1. Kristina @ spabettie on October 27th, 2010 1:07 pm

    Shirley these look fabulous! Pumpkin bread is one of my very favorites !!

    • Shirley on October 28th, 2010 10:02 am

      Hi Kristina–Awww, thanks, dear. I just love how beautiful those loaves are on my stovetop. ;-) Glad you are a fellow pumpkin bread lover … I knew you were a pumpkin fan already with that pumpkin “fudge” of yours. :-)


  2. Ricki on October 27th, 2010 2:26 pm

    I find “mistakes” very educational as well–never feel bad about those! I had a wonderful parfait once made with a (supposed to be solid) mousse layered between cake that didn’t quite firm up as it should have, either. Delish! Your breads look gorgeous, and that maple butter. . . oh, my. ;)

    Quick question: is your sweet rice flour sort of starchy in texture as well? I just bought a bag labeled “sweet rice flour” at the Asian supermarket, and it kind of squeaks the way cornstarch does in the bag. . . not sure what to do with it!

    • Shirley on October 28th, 2010 10:15 am

      Hi Ricki–With the challenges you’ve faced with baking, I imagine you’ve had some “mistakes,” but you’ve really capitalized on those to make some incredible desserts and other dishes. I like the sound of that mousse concoction. I think you excel at mousses and parfaits anyway. :-)

      The rice flour I use is NOT sweet rice flour. I use finely ground white rice flour, which one could actually make on one’s own by grinding long grain white rice. Sweet rice flour is sometimes used in gluten-free baking, but usually in smaller amounts and it’s made from a short grain rice. It IS starchy and especially sticky and binding (often used in gravies and sauces). It’s sometimes referenced as glutinous for that stickiness (which really confuses folks), mochi rice flour, or sushi rice flour. You can read more here at Wikipedia. I’ve used it some, but not that often. Lauren (Celiac Teen) has incorporated it in a number of her baking recipes.


  3. Maggie on October 27th, 2010 2:28 pm

    You are on a roll Shirley! I love pumpkin bread and now I’m craving it. Do you cook all 4 mini loaves at the same time? I just don’t have the nerve to do that!

    • Shirley on October 28th, 2010 10:19 am

      Hi Maggie–Ha ha … thanks! Pumpkin bread is on my addiction list, but it’s been a VERY long time since I made it. We have to protect ourselves that way, right? ;-) I do bake them all at once, but feel free to halve the recipe if you’re afraid of what might happen. LOL For this batch, we are eating one, I brought one to the office, I’m giving one to a girlfriend today, and then I’m taking the last loaf to mom and dad. They are easy to immediately pop in the freezer, too. Then you can pull one out to give as a gift (during the holidays, for example) or just to enjoy without having to bake. :-)


  4. Kim @ Cook It Allergy Free on October 28th, 2010 12:16 am

    Well, looks like you got back your mojo for sure!! Sometimes mistakes just help us step up our game the next time! ;)
    I know that every time I have a bad go with a recipe, I learn a new cooking lesson that helps me to step up my skills just a bit. I feel good knowing that one day I just may have my mother’s talent and confidence in the kitchen!
    These beautiful loaves of pumpkin bread are just calling my name. May just have to make some tomorrow. It is my first day without a million things on the to-do list, so I think I just may do some baking just for me (and not the blog)! LOL

    • Shirley on October 28th, 2010 10:28 am

      Hi Kim–Thank you! :-) I hadn’t trusted my gut on those recipes … always best to do that. ;-) I think you are well on your way to being like your mom in the kitchen. I’m impressed every single day with what you make. I’d like to see you and your mom in the kitchen together–phenomenal powerhouse cooking I think. :-)

      Pumpkin bread is the best! Hope you enjoy yours when you make it … just for YOU. ;-)


      • Kim @ Cook It Allergy Free on October 28th, 2010 12:47 pm

        Aww! THanks Shirley. I do admit that when my Mom and I are cooking together my confidence in the kitchen skyrockets. LOL She can fix any boo boo’s I make! ;)
        So excited because she is going to be here in about 2 weeks to cook with me and go to watch Conner’s flag football game. Then she will be back during Christmas for two weeks. I CANNOT WAIT!!!

        • Shirley on October 29th, 2010 8:16 am

          Kim–I’d love to see you two in the kitchen together! I’ve heard both your kitchens are fabulous, too. :-) How wonderful that she is coming for two long visits … just fantastic! I can’t wait to see what you guys create when you’re together. ;-)


  5. Erin Elberson on October 28th, 2010 6:40 am

    Ah, the joy and the defeat of not really recipes ;) Should be the beginning of the Wide World of Sports!
    Love, love, pumpkin bread. Maybe adding some chocolate chips in there…
    And brave woman for even attempting to make dairy free sugar free condensed milk! Wow!

    • Shirley on October 28th, 2010 10:30 am

      Oh, Erin, that is too funny! I love that analogy … all of a sudden I’m remembering the Wide World of Sports and opening announcement for that show. ;-)

      I do like chocolate with pumpkin, but most of the time I really just love it with nuts. Simple pleasures.

      I know exactly how I’m going to make the gf/df/rsf condensed milk next time and it WILL work! LOL, but true … stay tuned!


  6. Linda on October 28th, 2010 10:36 am

    I haven’t done this myself, but I know some people blog about their failures and people are happy to read it. We all have those experiences, and sharing them can be especially helpful to those who are not as experienced with cooking/baking. My problem is I just don’t think about taking pictures and writing down what went wrong when I mess up.

    Anyway, I’m glad your pumpkin bread turned out. It looks great, and I don’t mind at all that you went with a classic for the challenge.

    • Shirley on October 29th, 2010 8:06 am

      Hi Linda–Yes, I’ve seen those failure posts. Pete (No Gluten, No Problem) shared his “bread bomb” (LOL) and Lauren (Celiac Teen) hosted an event asking everyone to share that mishaps. I took some photos hoping for goodness in these two recipes, but you can’t really tell by the photos how awful the recipes were. And, frankly, I was happy to share my experience, but not so sure I want those photos to live on in infamy. ;-)

      So glad you liked the classic pumpkin bread. :-) It’s better with xanthan gum included, but still works without it for folks who run out or who are allergic.


  7. Jenna @ Newlyweds on October 30th, 2010 10:02 am

    Thanks for linking up your great posts, I just love that you are having a pumpkin week too!!!

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2010 2:26 pm

      Hey Jenna–It was my pleasure. Thanks so much for inviting me. I just love seeing all those photos of pumpkin delights–great linkup event! :-)


  8. Desi on October 31st, 2010 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the shout-out, Shirley! Those pumpkin loaves are making my mouth water!!! YUMMMMMMM!!!


    • Shirley on November 1st, 2010 12:33 am

      Hi Desi–Thanks! Pumpkin bread is sooo good. Love your pecan butter … I have more plans for that, so I’ll soon be making another batch. ;-)


  9. demi on May 12th, 2013 6:48 am

    the bread turned out to rise and be good enough.i didnt add water or sugar and it was just fine for my bread taste!!but it did have a small smell and taste of baking soda..can i use only baking powder and how much?will do this again!now i go freeze the pieces and have them ready when i need them!!!!

    • Shirley on May 12th, 2013 9:37 am

      demi–The taste of baking soda would definitely be more pronounced with no water or sugar. I’ve never substituted baking powder for baking soda, but there’s info on how to do that via this following link: I’m glad you still find your slightly different version tasty. :-)


      • demi on May 12th, 2013 11:01 am

        hmmm didnt know that about water and soda….i added just few drops to mixture since it was wet enough..but will maybe try it again and add the water and maybe more flour if it gets watery!…what can sb learn hun?next time i will do it right!

        • Shirley on May 12th, 2013 11:32 pm

          demi–It’s possible you might be able to reduce the baking soda because you lowered the overall volume/weight of ingredients, but I can’t say for sure. I don’t always add the water (because it’s not always needed), but I do use the sugar. It’s a matter of keeping the baking soda in proportion to the amount of the other ingredients to add proper leavening. Best of luck next time!


  10. Ammo on August 27th, 2013 9:34 am

    Just made these into muffins for breakfast. My kids are calling them “ginger snap muffins”. Needless to say they were a hit! Thanks.

    • Shirley on August 27th, 2013 10:26 am

      Hi Ammo–Welcome to gfe! :-) And thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment! Please tell your kids that I am a big ginger snap fan, so that is quite a compliment to me. ;-) I appreciate their review! Hope you’ll find many more recipes that you all will love here on gfe!


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