“Wait, but Po, didn’t you just give us a recipe for a pumpkin loaf? Topped with pumpkin seeds? That you promised us was the absolute best? That you actually titled the perfect pumpkin loaf?” Why yes. Yes I did. Thank you for paying attention! But see, you really can’t have too many excellent pumpkin loaf recipes. That would be like having too many pairs of cozy pajamas or too much Champagne. Wait, strike that, you absolutely can have too much Champagne—you heard it here.
Truly though, I do think it’s worth knowing both of these recipes even though they’re very similar. Ordinarily I find it overwhelming to have multiple recipes for the same thing — it gives me decision fatigue, and I’d rather just find one ultimate recipe and use that going forward, tweaking as need be.
These loaves differ ever so slightly in ingredients (this one uses olive oil and butter while the other relies on vegetable oil and water for liquid), but the effect is noticeable. The other loaf is a more classic pumpkin loaf: you taste a little of the cloves along with the other spices, giving it a nice holiday coffeehouse vibe. The topping for that loaf is sweeter (I use plain pumpkin seeds coated in honey).
This loaf has a moister, closer crumb. It’s a bit more sophisticated, thanks to the olive oil and butter. In fact, I don’t think you’d go wrong by toasting a slice and topping it with lightly sweetened whipped cream (mixed with dollop of mascarpone, methinks?) and calling it a very nice dessert. The citrus zest is optional, but I really like the zippiness it adds alongside all those warm, comforting holiday spices.
The topping is pretty fantastic too. Using roasted salted pumpkin seeds and a sprinkling of raw sugar creates this fantastically crunchy crust that has an addictively salty-sweet quality.
Both recipes are quite adaptable to different shapes: you can bake them as muffins or round cakes or mini loaves. Just adjust the time (less time if you’re making smaller baked goods), but otherwise carry on as usual.
Pumpkin Olive Oil Loaf
Makes 2 loaves
3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon orange or lemon zest (optional)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 3/4 cups (346g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup boiled cider
1/2 cup olive oil
8 tablespoons (113g, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two loaf pans (9” x 5” or a slightly smaller loaf pan will each work fine)—you could also absolutely bake these in a muffin tin or a regular cake pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs for about 5 minutes until pale in color.
Add the sugar and boiled cider (substitute molasses if you don’t have boiled cider) and beat for another few minutes. Don’t skimp on the mixing — beating air into the batter is good for the overall texture of the loaf.
Add the olive oil, butter, vanilla, and pumpkin and mix until well-combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the batter just comes together — don’t overmix at this point.
Divide the batter between your two loaf pans. Sprinkle the tops with the salted pumpkin seeds and raw sugar.
Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully before slicing.