Why It Works
- Malted milk powder and liquid milk deepen pumpkin’s earthy notes and add dairy richness, and the extra lactose improves browning.
- The sweet nuttiness of the salted brown butter glaze complements the roasted, spiced flavor of the pumpkin bread.
In the fall, we’re all about the classic combination of allspice, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg, affectionately known as "pumpkin spice." We’ve served it up in pumpkin streusel muffins and in this pumpkin skillet coffee cake, and our take on pumpkin bread continues this tradition: a tender loaf that isn’t cloying or heavy on the spices. To make this loaf even more exceptional, we finish it with a salted brown butter glaze. You don't have to use it—the pumpkin bread is excellent all on its own—but we strongly recommend you do.
Since it is, after all, pumpkin bread, it requires pumpkin purée, which adds moisture along with a mild sweetness and vegetal flavor (this is true of our other, yeasted pumpkin bread, too). We tested the purée in two forms: canned (using the popular Libby’s brand) and homemade (in the form of puréed roasted butternut squash, because, more often than not, the canned stuff is butternut masquerading as pumpkin). Canned “pumpkin” produced a loaf with a toasty, earthy profile, while the freshly puréed butternut squash was more vibrantly colored, with a brighter, sweeter flavor. We liked both versions equally, so use whichever sounds better to you. Your pumpkin bread will be absolutely delicious either way.
We also add some malted milk powder, an ingredient Stella has famously called the "umami bomb of dessert," to enhance the overall flavor. Its mix of wheat flour, malted barley extracts, milk, salt, and sodium bicarbonate supplies toffee notes, a savory bite, and extra lactose to improve browning.
Once baked and cooled, you can eat it as-is or finish it with the rich brown-butter glaze, which we make by whisking nutty brown butter with powdered sugar, milk, salt, vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon. Slowly drizzled over the finished loaf, the glaze beautifully coats the top and drips down the sides for a fall-worthy treat.
- For the Bread:
- 8 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (1 2/3 cups; 225g)
- 1/2 ounce malted milk powder, such as Ovaltine (2 tablespoons; 15g)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use the same weight or half as much by volume
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 large eggs (3 1/2 ounces; 100g)
- 8 ounces (1 cup; 225g) pumpkin or butternut squash purée, canned or homemade (see note)
- 5 ounces neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola oil (2/3 cup; 140g)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup; 115g) granulated sugar
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup; 115g) light brown sugar
- 2 ounces milk, any fat percentage (1/4 cup; 55g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the Glaze:
- 2 ounces (1/2 cup; 60g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons; 30g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 ounce milk, any fat percentage (1 tablespoon; 15g)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Bread: Grease an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and line with a 7- by 13-inch sheet of parchment paper so that parchment hangs over the long sides of the pan to form a sling. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (177°C).
In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger until well combined, about 1 minute.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin/squash purée, oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla until thoroughly combined and sugars are dissolved, about 1 minute.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture. Whisk just until incorporated and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute.
Using a flexible spatula, scrape batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake until loaf is domed and golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, or to an internal temperature of around 200°F (93°C), about 1 hour.
Transfer pan to a wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet to cool for 30 minutes. Run a butter knife along edges to loosen, then lift loaf using overhanging parchment. Remove parchment and return loaf to wire rack.
Meanwhile, for the Glaze: In a heatproof small bowl, combine powdered sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
In a 1-quart stainless steel saucier, melt butter over medium-low heat. Increase heat to medium and simmer, stirring with a heat-resistant spatula while butter hisses and pops. Continue cooking and stirring until foaming subsides, scraping up brown bits that form on bottom, and butter is golden yellow and milk solids are chestnut brown in color, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add milk, vanilla, and butter, along with all the brown bits, to powdered sugar mixture and whisk until smooth. You should have 3 ounces (about 1/3 cup; 80g) of glaze.
Slowly drizzle glaze evenly over top of pumpkin bread, letting it drip down sides. Allow glaze to set for 10 minutes, then slice bread with serrated knife and serve.
8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, wire rack, rimmed baking sheet, 1-quart stainless steel saucier
Roasting butternut squash deepens its natural butterscotch-like flavor and sweetness. To make butternut squash purée, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 400°F (205°C). Split one small squash (about 2 pounds) in half lengthwise, remove seeds, and place cut-side down on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. When cool, scrape pulp into a food processor (discarding skins) and purée until smooth. The purée can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Wrapped tightly in foil or plastic, pumpkin bread will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature.