Rachel Heath

Intentional Living: learning to be fully present

The Best Pumpkin Bread Ever

Ok, maybe it’s not very humble of me, but… it’s true. The pumpkin bread I made a few days ago is the best pumpkin bread I’ve ever had.

This is a big deal for me. I don’t bake. I’m terrible at it. Even when I follow a recipe to the letter, my cookies always spread into one giant mess, my bread is always either too dry or still mushy on the inside, and my brownies always burn. Truthfully, I’ve been getting better, but historically, baking has just never been my thing.

Even so, I faithfully attempt pumpkin bread every year. Something about this time of year makes me forget all my baking failures and hopefully proclaim, “It will be different this year!” And for 6 autumns, I have attempted to use my mother-in-law’s pumpkin bread recipe because Stephen loves it and always asks me to. And every year, we have Pumpkin Bread Tension. Any woman whose husband has handed her one of his mom’s recipes knows what I’m talking about.

He grew up eating that pumpkin bread every year, the way his mama made it, the same way every time. If you don’t get it quite right… hey, no one wants to be compared to their mother-in-law. It’s pressure. And as we’ve discussed, I don’t have a lot of success even when following tried-and-true recipes. I’ve not yet made it and had him say, “This is right.” I’ve even had a couple years where he liked it, but… it’s wasn’t the same. It wasn’t right.

This year, I had an advantage. Just last week I made zucchini bread. It wasn’t awful, it wasn’t great, and I got a few mistakes out of my system. The experience was fresh when Stephen said, “What I’m really looking forward to is pumpkin bread…”

I took a few risks. I started with my mother-in-law’s recipe and made a few substitutions to lighten it up and make it healthier, and added more spices. The final product is the pinnacle of my baking career. In fact, I completely shocked myself. It turned out absolutely perfect and it’s been such a solid hit that between the 3 of us, we’ve eaten a whole loaf in just under 48 hours.

Here’s the recipe:


  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup macadamia nut oil (coconut oil would be great as well)
  • 2 cups plain pumpkin, canned or fresh
  • 3 eggs
  • 3½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaping tsp nutmeg
  • heaping tsp allspice
  • heaping tsp cinnamon
  • heaping tsp ground cloves
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • ½ cup cranberries (optional)
  • ¾ cup water (or less)



  1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the applesauce, sugar, and oil.
  3. Add the pumpkin and mix well.
  4. Beat in the eggs.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture about a ½ cup at a time. As the mixture thickens, begin to alternate adding water as necessary. I ended up adding about ¾ cup.
  7. Oil two glass bread pans and divide the batter between them.
  8. Bake for 75-90 minutes.
  9. Remove the pans from the oven, let cool, and remove the bread from the pans.

We love to toast our bread and top it with a little oil and a sprinkling of brown sugar. I’d love to hear what you do with yours!


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