Adventures in Baking

Pumpkin Bread Perfection

For the past 22 years of my life, the entrance of fall has always been marked by the sweet flavors and aromas of pumpkin bread. My husband’s family had this amazing tradition of making this sensational (generationally, handed down family recipe) pumpkin bread starting at the celebrations for the birthdays that resided in August, until the New Year bell chimed.

I remember first tasting this remarkable bread at my husband’s birthday celebration at his Grandmother Erna’s house in August of our first year together as a couple. I thought right then, I need to marry this man just so I can keep having this bread.

Much to my excitement, my mother-in-law bequeathed to me on the day of my bridal shower, a beautiful photo album aligned with pictures of my husband growing up  alongside his favorite recipes. Of course, immediately I flipped through the pages hoping to find the gem I was so longing to make. And there, amongst the “Breads” of his toddler  years was the end of the rainbow – The Pumpkin Bread Recipe!!! I was in! I had made it! the PUMPKIN BREAD was mine!!!

Given I was getting married in the month of October, my bridal shower was in September, which meant – it wasn’t too early to start trying out this bad boy! And disappointment was nowhere in site, as I sat down after the hour and a half bake time to devour a loaf in its entirety! Ok maybe not all of it, I did have 4 roommates that need some too, I’m not a monster!

Since then, I have been making this bread for us, our family, our friends, my husband’s co-workers, our neighbors, and teachers every fall! It marks the coming of the holidays, cooler weather, and joyous times.

A lot has changed in our family over the past decade. We have lost my husband’s Grandmother, his father, and just recently his Aunt. Family gatherings now look a bit different than they used to, but the bread still makes its entrance marking the memories that we hold so dear. I have started teaching my daughter how to make the bread in hopes she will carry on the tradition; and now I am also giving it to you! It is my way of extending the legacy and giving my readers a new tradition. You won’t be sorry! For the past few years, my husband’s co-workers not only look forward to, but kindly remind me, if ever I am late making it!

So let’s get to it!! Ingredients listed at the bottom of the page.

First, let’s set our oven to 300 degrees (F) and gather three loaf pans. Either spray pans with Baker’s Joy or butter and flour them (like you would any cake pan). Now set those aside.

IMG_4864In a large bowl you are going to gather your eggs, sugar, pumpkin, water, oil (I prefer to
use half oil and half applesauce) – mix together with a wire whisk till combined.






Next, we are going to combine all of our dry ingredients together. I do not sift the ingredients. I just add them in to the bowl and then whisk together to combine and get out any lumps.




Now gradually add the flour mixture into the wet mixture and whisk together till nice and combined. Then pour batter into your prepared pans.


Your oven should be preheated at this point, so place all three pans in the center oven (if you cannot fit all three on one rack you may disperse, but make sure to switch them around  a few times during their baking).

Bake for about an hour to 1 & 1/2 hrs or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes our nearly clean. Let the bread cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then remove from pans and let cool completely on wire rack. Once cooled you can wrap in cling wrap and store in refrigerator if not using right away.

Our bread does not last long. All three loaves are generally gone in a week, so I have never had to keep the bread preserved or frozen. I am sure you won’t either.


  • Use half applesauce and half oil to cut down on fat and cholesterol in this recipe. The applesauce makes the bread nice and moist – but you may find it needs to cook a minute or two longer.
  • I bake my bread with convection – so it only takes about an hour. I watch my bread carefully since one of my loaf pans is smaller than the other. Not all of your loaves will cook the same so turn them around, test each one, watch the time, and take each one out as ready.
  • You will need a very large bowl for this recipe since it makes so much batter. If you wish to cut the recipe in half, then use one loaf pan and a few small individual sized loaf pans.
  • If you do make this batter and divvy it up into small individual loaf pans (great for gift giving), put the small pans on a cookie tray for easier handling and turning in your oven.
  • As with all recipes, make sure your ingredients are fresh, but especially here, since the nutmeg and cloves really make the taste of this bread.
  • The recipe calls for (and Grandmother always added) 1c. of raisins or nuts, but I omit this when I make it. I find for me, it takes away from the pure pumpkin flavor of the bread. But you do you!!


Erna Wells’ Perfect Pumpkin Bread

  • 6 Eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups pumpkin (or 1 large can)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups oil (I use 3/4c. applesauce and 3/4c. oil)
  • 5 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 2 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Mix-Ins (optional): 1 cup of any of the following: chocolate chips, raisins, walnuts, pecans.

Beat 6 eggs in a large bowl, add next 4 ingredients. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to wet mixture. Whisk till well combined. Bake at 300 degrees (f) for an hour to an hour and a half. Cool on wire wrack for 10 minutes, then remove bread and let cool completely before wrapping up. Viola!



2 thoughts on “Pumpkin Bread Perfection

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