I’m not a big breakfast person, and probably in keeping with my sweet tooth, more often than not, you’ll catch me reaching for a pastry over an omelette. This was my nod at being seasonal and keeping my weekday breakfast interesting: a loaf of pumpkin bread with cream cheese swirled in the middle.
This was a delicious bread, kind of like a banana bread (which I’m sure we’ve all had before), but well, pumpkinny instead of banana-y, and richer in color. I included some of the usual suspects as far as pumpkin-friendly spices and a mix of nuts (walnuts, pecans) and chocolate chips. I’ve had images of deliciously frosted pumpkin cupcakes in my head for a while, so I also thought a swirl of cream cheese throughout the loaf would go nicely while still making a decent claim at this being breakfast friendly and not all out dessert.
I’m also submitting this autumny bread to Art You Eat – Autumn Edition.
- Bread Batter
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1.5 cup crunchy things (chopped walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, pepitas–whatever!)
- Cream Cheese Swirl
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp sugar
I like to prepare my pumpkin puree well ahead of when I need it. Its an easy task, but its even easier if you do it a day ahead. Just lop the pumpkin (a small, flavorful, cooking friendly variety–not big Halloween decorative pumpkins) in half, scrape out the seeds and stringy bits (and save those seeds!), and cook in a roasting pan with ~1/2-1 inch of water, cut side down.
After ~60 minutes (give or take 15 minutes) in a 350°F oven, the pumpkin should be fork tender, at which point, you simply let it cool, scrape out the flesh, puree it, and allow to strain for about an hour or two (a lot of water could drip out). Tada, fresh pumpkin puree! I do 2 or 3 pumpkins at a time. You can easily freeze the leftovers. Yes, there’s canned puree available, but why wait for last year’s pumpkins to come in “season” at the store when you could so easily use actual, fresh pumpkins that don’t have a tinny taste?
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in a bowl. Set this aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter (which is at room temperature). Then, add in the sugar, mixing until integrated, followed by the eggs one at a time, vanilla extract, and finally, the pumpkin puree. Add half of the dry mixture, mixing just until integrated with the wet, and finally add the rest, mixing only as much as needed to form the batter.
With the batter prepared, fold in the nuts/chips.
In another bowl, beat the cream cheese (which has come to room temperature for an hour or two). Once creamy, add the sugar and egg, beating until totally integrated. At this point, the cream cheese mixture should be very easily spreadable, almost pourable. What you see in the photo above is how it would look if you used straight, unwhipped cream cheese (call this learning experience/loaf #1). It works, but its difficult to spread on the batter and the baked result becomes crumbly and not well integrated with the bread. It makes a surprising amount of difference!
In a buttered bread pan, pour about a third of the bread batter followed by a half of the cream cheese. Repeat with the remaining batter so that you have two layers of cream cheese. Since my bread pan is a bit smaller than the recipe (why did I buy this thing? Its about 8 inches long, for reference), I pour some batter in my muffin pan–enough to make two muffins. Otherwise, I risk major bread overflow in the oven (there’s a mess!).
With the bread pan ready to go, stab it with a knife here and there to give the cream cheese a bit of a swirl through the batter (I forgot to do this in loaf #1, lol–not very dramatic to slice into later). Then, bake this in a 350°F oven for 1 hour (and if you’re doing muffins with extra batter, take those out earlier–figure around 30 minutes).
Give it some time to cool down after the oven, and either dig in now, or save it for breakfast during the week (like me!). Whenever you dig in, enjoy!