Gram's Souped-Up Pumpkin Bread
For as long as my great grandmother was alive, 94 years to be exact, she baked. Cookies, pies, sweet breads, brownies- there was always something sweet in the house to satisfy her relentless sweet tooth. Even when her eyes began to fail, and had to rely on a magnifying computer to help her see, she baked.
She baked mostly from memory, but as she got older, Gram began to keep spiral notebooks of her most beloved recipes in large print that each of the grandkids would write out for her when we’d come visit. The recipes were incomplete, usually without instructions, listing only the ingredients. To make these recipes now, is to channel her, and the many years my grandmother spent in her kitchen making these recipes with an undeniable amount of love and care. I will forever cherish these recipes and her memory.
With a constant damp chill in the Seattle autumn air, I thought it would be the perfect time to experiment with my grandmother’s pumpkin bread recipe. Gram’s souped-up pumpkin bread is a love letter to her, a mix of old and new, and everything I want in a fall bake. Nutty brown butter, chocolate chips, and toasted walnuts make this pumpkin bread shine. The crumb is tender, the spice subtle, and I’d be surprised if it lasted more than a few days in your house. Serve it warm with a generous amount of whipped honey butter, because I know Gram would want it that way.
Gram’s Souped-Up Pumpkin Bread
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C walnuts (I love these)
2 C all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 C brown sugar, packed
1 C pumpkin puree
1/4 C plain yogurt, whole milk or full fat
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 9 x 5 x 3” loaf pan.
Make the brown butter. In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium low heat. Once the butter has melted, let it continue to cook- it will sputter and foam, and sound mad as hell, but keep going. Make sure to keep a careful watch as it browns, as the butter will go from nutty and golden to burnt in the blink of an eye. The whole process will take about 5 minutes or so from start to finish. Set aside.
On a rimmed baking sheet or oven safe pan, toast the walnuts in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and have turned golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat brown sugar, browned butter, eggs, pumpkin puree, yogurt, and vanilla over medium speed until everything is incorporated together. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Fold in walnuts and mini chocolate chips. Pour batter into loaf pan, leveling off the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let the bread cool completely before slicing.