pumpkin loaves

Pumpkin bread with chocolate

16 November 2016

I have a beef with pumpkin breads that aren’t pumpkiny. A drier bread makes for easy cutting and tidy presentation, but the pumpkin bread I want to eat is a little soft, with big sticky crumbs, and super rich with pumpkin flavor.

In Ohio we live for pumpkin bread, from a little bakery called Beehive Bread. It’s a glistening, weighty loaf, dark orange inside and generously studded with chocolate. You can feel the moistness in its heft, even before you cut into it and bite into a fat slice of spiced pumpkin perfection. It’s so beloved that Beehive makes it year round, and we love it just as much in the thick heat of summer when our minds can’t even conjure the crisp chill of fall.

But fall is here now in California, and the pumpkin bread of our dreams is 2500 miles away. It took me a few different recipes to hone in on a recipe that fully lives up to our Beehive memories. And though I’m often weary of eating something after I’ve tested several batches, I’m still going strong on this one. Because pumpkin season is in the air, and this pumpkin bread is that good.

Even my non-chocolate daughter admits the chocolate in the Beehive loaf is hard to beat. But I also tried a version with a cinnamon-sugar topping instead of chocolate, and we loved that variation too.

I woke up last night thinking about Thanksgiving to-dos. But after I jotted down the list, I rested easy again. Here’s my timeline in case it helps you think through yours:

  • SundaySalt the turkey for dry brining (maybe split it in half for more compact storage and faster cooking) and stick it in a bag. Refrigerate breast-side up.
  • Monday – Make cranberry sauce.
  • Tuesday – Cut bread cubes and set out to dry. Flip bagged turkey breast-side down.
  • Wednesday – Make apple pie with crumb topping and pumpkin pie, no corn syrup. While they’re baking, prep onions and celery for stuffing, and greens for salad. Take out turkey from bag and set in roasting pan so skin can dry overnight.
  • Thursday morning – Make stuffing and put in baking dish. Remove turkey from fridge an hour before cooking. Scrub potatoes and put in pan with water.
  • When turkey is almost ready – Put stuffing in to bake. Boil potatoes in skins. Leave covered in hot water until ready to peel/mash. Use pan drippings as base for gravy (remove excess fat first).
  • While turkey rests out of the oven – Finish mashed potatoes and gravy. Find someone to carve the bird while I set out cranberry sauce, salad, stuffing, etc. Or vice versa.

My mom is making sweet potatoes and her outrageous green beans, as well as Chinese sticky rice stuffing with mushrooms and chestnuts, and a cranberry jello dish with a creamy topping that she loves. We’re giving my brothers and their wives an exemption this year since they have new babies in the house. So I may skip cornbread, our pumpkin pie is coming from Costco, and I think the kids will take charge of their favorite spiced cranberry tea.

Oh, but I have a great salad recipe coming for Thanksgiving – easy to prep ahead and actually tastes better if tossed together an hour or so ahead of serving. So let’s get on with the pumpkin bread so I can finish that up in time.

I love an easy quick bread like this – so little work for so much reward.

pumpkin bread ingredients

Wet ingredients into dry.

wet ingredients into dry

Pumpkin puree straight from the can.

pumpkin puree

Chocolate chips.

chocolate chips

I forgot to put more chocolate chips on top this one.

pumpkin bread batter

It makes a generous loaf.

pumpkin loaf

pumpkin chocolate chip slice

The cinnamon-sugar-topped variation was inspired by Smitten Kitchen‘s very good pumpkin bread recipe. But hers makes an oversized loaf that kept dripping batter which burned in my oven. And I found that a giant loaf is more prone to getting overbrowned on the outside before the inside is fully cooked.

pumpkin bread cinnamon sugar topping

To use up the last of my pumpkin puree in this last round, I made a one-and-a-half recipe and split it into two 3/4-size loaves.

pumpkin loaves

The 3/4-size loaves worked out very nicely also. Not as high, but cooked a bit quicker, with no risk of burned crust.

pumpkin breads

The spices stand out more in the cinnamon-sugar loaf, without chocolate to overpower them.

pumpkin cinnamon sugar loaf

Either way, it’s a celebration of the season. And just the fuel I need for Thanksgiving prep work ahead.

pumpkin bread slices

Last year I made a new section in the recipe archives for Thanksgiving, but I’ll copy it here also for your convenience:







Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate
I have a beef about pumpkin breads that aren’t very pumpkiny. We live for a pumpkin chocolate chip loaf – super moist, with rich pumpkin flavor and generously studded with chocolate – from a little bakery in Ohio, Beehive Bread. We make this in California when we can’t get our Beehive fix.


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup neutral-flavored cooking oil or melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (almost all of a 15 ounce can)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (1/2 cup for batter; 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch loaf pan. If you want to be able to remove the whole loaf from the pan, dust the pan with flour and tap out any excess, or line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine oil, yogurt and eggs and mix well. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients and pumpkin puree. Stir until just mixed and pour into prepared loaf pan.
  4. Bake 60-70 minutes, until the loaf is no longer jiggly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool before removing from pan (and run a knife along the sides first to loosen).


  • Non-chocolate alternatives: Add raisins and/or toasted nuts instead of chocolate chips, or leave plain. Top with 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Yogurt substitutions: milk or orange juice, or cognac/bourbon/whiskey.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have all the spices. Cinnamon is the main one; the others you can do without. Or just use a pumpkin pie spice blend if you have it.
  • Bread will keep for about a week, well-wrapped, at room temperature. It freezes very well also.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie 17 November 2016 at 8:00 am

How much vanilla should be added? The directions say to add it, but it’s not shown in the ingredient list. Thanks!


cg 17 November 2016 at 8:20 am

no vanilla! my error – will fix. thanks so much, julie!!


Julie 18 November 2016 at 7:17 pm

This bread is delicious! And my husband agrees. Definitely my new go-to pumpkin bread recipe. Another Chinese Grandma recipe for the win 🙂


cg 21 November 2016 at 9:28 pm

hi julie – so glad it worked out for you and your husband! and you are super sweet to let me know! =)


Linda 18 November 2016 at 10:56 pm

I’d like to make mini loaves of this recipe to give to friends, co-workers & neighbors. Would this recipe work?

Also, could I spray the loaf pans with nonstick spray?


cg 19 November 2016 at 12:47 am

yes and yes! mini loaves will work, with less bake time. and nonstick spray will be fine. what a great gift!


Ling Ling 21 November 2016 at 11:14 am

I really like the “Notes” section you include in all of your recipes. I baked a very successful version of the pumpkin bread you posted, minus the cloves, and it was lovely! However, I proceeded with the recipe and the baking, because you mentioned in your notes that “no cloves” is not a problem. Thank you for making recipes accessible for everyday home cooks!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


cg 21 November 2016 at 9:32 pm

hi ling ling – i am so glad you find the notes helpful! i use them myself when i go back to make a recipe, and i’ll add to them later also when i try variations, substitutions etc. thank you so much for sharing back. happy thanksgiving!


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