I'm a fan of many pumpkin-flavored things, including bread, scones, and pie, but not everything (sorry, pumpkin spice latte). I also happen to be a big advocate of canned pumpkin. It's an old and mostly true cliché that "nothing's better than the real thing," but I'm not sure how true that is with pumpkin. In order to bake with a real sugar pumpkin, a cook must roast it and then cook down its watery flesh until the texture is correct. This process is neither easy nor consistent, so I always use canned pumpkin.
I do love to have a nice crust on the top of my pumpkin bread, which is why my recipe begins with a butter and flour roux. When added to the batter, this combination of ingredients results in a beautifully crisp crust (this crust tends to soften overnight, but will happily regain its crispiness when heated or toasted). It also results in a super moist bread, evading the Play-Doh-y texture common among dense quick breads. So if you're tempted to skip the roux, trust me when I say that it's worth the few extra minutes.
This recipe contains no eggs, resulting in a rich and moist bread. This omission also means that it is almost vegan; to make your loaf completely vegan, simply replace the butter in the roux with oil. One last note: I like my quick breads to be just sweet enough, but if you prefer yours sweeter, you can add an additional ¼ cup of sugar without changing its texture.
3 tablespoons butter (1.5 ounces)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (.9 ounce)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (8 ounces)
½ of a 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree (7.5 ounces) (Not pumpkin pie filling)
⅓ cup oil (2.5 ounces) - grapeseed, sunflower, safflower...
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1⅓ cup all-purpose flour (6 ounces) - see note for accurately measuring flour here
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil or butter a loaf pan (the top of my loaf pan measures 4.25" x 8.5", which was the perfect size for the recipe). Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of flour while whisking. As you whisk, the mixture should begin to thicken, bubble, and look a bit like lava. Pour the lava mixture into a bowl and combine with the sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, and salt. Stir. Combine the dry ingredients in their own receptacle and add half to the pumpkin mixture. After mixing, add the remaining dry ingredients. The resulting batter should be thick. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes (to an internal temperature between 190°F and 200°F). Cool completely in the pan before removing.