The term "pumpkin spice" — especially when paired with "latte" — has become a bizarre cultural stand-in for conversations about capitalism, holiday creep, and the dissemination of the concept of being "basic."
But let's take a step back from what pumpkin spice has come to stand for, and talk about what it actually is. The spice blend is a mix of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and sometimes allspice. It isn't a modern invention — as much as it may seem that it was born out of a Starbucks board meeting. There are references to it in "The Original Boston Cooking-School Cookbook," an 1896 publication by Fannie Merritt Farmer.
It imbues dishes with that kind of classic fall flavor that is instantly recognizable when it hits your tongue — which yes, is great for hot coffee drinks (or the faux-Starbucks pumpkin cream cold brew that I DIY-ed in my home kitchen), but it's also ideal for baked goods.
The thing is, I'm not an all-autumn pumpkin pie eater; I kind of get my fix in the days surrounding Thanksgiving, and am ready to put away the pie plate until next November. So, I've spent the last few days attempting to summon cooler temperatures with this pumpkin spice breakfast bread.
Baking bread at home had a moment earlier this year, as a lot of people spent their additional time at home during the pandemic in the kitchen. Two loaves, in particular, kind of stood out as home baker favorites: the sourdough loaf and banana bread.
Sourdough requires a lot of work to get it just right — you've got yeast, starters, crumb and scoring to think about. Banana bread, in contrast, is pretty low effort, but the results are immediately satisfying. If done well, it's sweet, moist and has that lightly caramelized-sugar flavor that comes from using overripe bananas.
I wanted to carry those flavors over into fall, using a can of pumpkin pie filling — which is already seasoned with pumpkin spice, taking the guesswork out of seasoning — and a healthy dose of brown sugar to get that moistness and toasty sweetness found in banana bread.
It's perfect alongside a cup of coffee — a pumpkin spice and coffee option for the non-PSL crowd.
Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Bread
Makes one loaf
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin pie filling
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine vegetable oil, vanilla extract, two eggs and pumpkin. Mix until completely combined.
2. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients and stir until very smooth.
3. Grease a standard loaf pan (I like to line it with parchment, too, just for an easier removal from the pan) and add the batter. Place in an oven that has been heated to 350 degrees. Bake bread until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 60–65 minutes.
4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let bread cool in the pan for one hour, before popping it out on the rack. Welcome to fall!