Pumped-Up Pumpkin Bread

by in Expert Chef

Two words often strike fear in the minds of moms: Snacks and Breakfast. Well, there’s Dessert too, because they’re always asking, and we’re always balancing the desire to please with the need to monitor sugar intake, both in terms of nutrition and also our wish to keep the Hyperactivity Gremlins in check. My friend Marilee recently posted her frustrations on Facebook, pleading for ideas for school snacks, and I’m not going to lie, the suggestions were not exactly stellar.

With my big garden and three kids, I’ve always relied on quick breads and cakes—baking powder and/or baking soda-leavened loaves—to use up excess produce from a bumper crop. I’ve done carrot, summer squash and zucchini, winter squash like butternut, and I even have a recipe for beet cake. The nice thing about quick breads is they’re versatile, tasty, they freeze well, and best of all, they’re multi-taskers, operating as breakfast, snacks, and even desserts. They fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, most traditional recipes are utterly loaded with sugar and oil.

So with the following recipe I set out to alter one of my favorites, Pumpkin Bread. By reducing the oil and adding unsweetened applesauce, we’re lowering fat and increasing nutrition. Added soy flour bumps the protein up, and flax meal and wheat bran increase the fiber content and micronutrients. Best of all, using white whole wheat flour provides all of the benefits of traditional whole wheat flour with a lighter texture and flavor, so your kids won’t know the difference.

This batter is thick, and while experimenting with it, I went ahead and scooped some into greased muffin tins. They rose beautifully into perfect round-topped muffins. Then I used an ice cream scoop and scooped some onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Guess what? The recipe yielded perfect round-topped cookies (or whoopie pies?!) as well. Needless to say, I’m really pleased with this recipe, and I think you will be too.


  • Store your flax meal and wheat bran or wheat germ in the refrigerator. Due to their fat content, they can go rancid at room temperature.
  • Soy flour is generally sold in the health food section. It’s inexpensive, lasts forever on the pantry shelf in a sealed container, and it’s a must to have around as it’s a great way to increase the protein content of your favorite baked goods. I find that I can comfortably substitute up to ½ c. soy flour per 2 cups flour in a recipe (equaling ½ c soy flour and 1 ½ c regular flour) without too much problem. Experiment to see what works for you.
  • Once your bread has cooled, pre-slice it, wrap it, and store it in the freezer. In the morning, you can stick a frozen piece right into the toaster to reheat. My kids like it with peanut butter.
  • Add a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips to the batter and make cookies. Bittersweet chocolate is relatively low-fat, dairy-free, and very flavorful, so a little goes a long way. The cookies store well in the freezer as well.
  • Feel free to substitute banana, winter squash, or sweet potato puree for the pumpkin. Two 15 oz. cans equal approximately 3 cups of puree. If you use banana, skip the spices and add 2t. vanilla extract.

Pumped-Up Pumpkin Bread

Print this recipe | Get the full nutrition facts

Pumpkin is one of fall’s favorite flavors, and with this recipe that can go undercover as bread, muffins or cookies, you just can’t go wrong.

Servings: Approximately 36 servings (Makes (3) 8x4” loaves) (61 G )

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 1 Hour


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 whole eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • (2) 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup soy flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the wheat flour, soy flour, flax meal, wheat bran, baking soda, and spices. Mix until combined. In another bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes with a hand mixer, then add in the pumpkin puree, apple sauce, oil, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until batter comes together: it will be thick. Divide among three greased 8×4” bread pans, smooth the tops, and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bread can be wrapped and frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or better yet, slice before freezing, then thaw and reheat at the same time in the toaster.

Cookies made with this batter require between 10 and 20 minutes of baking, depending on size. Muffins take 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the middle should come out completely clean in both cases. Don’t be afraid to check the progress of the baking: this is a very sturdy batter.

Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow balances three food worlds. As a mother of three young children, she’s fighting the battle every parent faces: how to keep her kids interested in the foods that keep them healthy. As the chef and owner of her catering company Eatswell Farm, she utilizes original recipes and techniques–focused on enhancing the enjoyment of locally-sourced ingredients–to best interpret the client’s vision. And as Consulting Executive Chef for Falmouth-based Professional Catering Services, a business specializing in production and backstage catering for concerts, she develops and executes menus that accommodate the strict nutritional requirements of the music industry elite. Erin and her family raise their own chicken for meat and eggs, have dabbled in pastured Narragansett turkeys, and have a very weedy but very large and productive garden.

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  • Anne

    Hi Erin, it’s Jeannie’s sister. Do you think I could make this
    vegan by using an egg substitute? (I use flax meal and water.) I
    wouldn’t even ask, except that this calls for a lot of eggs.
    Thanks! You rock, in spite of what we call you.

  • Expert Chef Erin Dow

    Hi, Anne! You can definitely use vegan egg substitutes for this
    recipe. I’ve had the best luck with commercial substitutes–I used
    Ener-g brand when my daughter was allergic–for quick breads,
    especially low-fat ones, because they seem to help retain the
    moisture better. Of course, if your finished product will be
    consumed fresh within a day or two, go for the flax meal option if
    you prefer it. But if you plan to freeze muffins or cookies for
    later use, you’ll probably find that the powdered substitutes are
    the way to go. Take care, Erin