My Family’s Pumpkin Loaf

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Pumpkin-spiced this, that, and everything in between might be all the rage, but my family has been making this pumpkin loaf for over 30 years.

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My sister reminded me, “I actually gave Mom the recipe. It was from the Roanoke (Virginia, USA) newspaper that my roommates and I received in college. Mind you, this was the early 1980s before this whole pumpkin craze took off.” So, this recipe has become a family tradition.

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As it turns out, the original source of the recipe comes from “Family Favorites from Country Kitchens” by Elise W. Manning. Over the years I’ve put my own mark on the recipe, which is featured below. 

Since the recipe makes two loaves, you may enjoy one for yourself and freeze the other or give it as a very welcome host gift. For the loaf you keep, it gets better days after you make it – if you can wait that long. 

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It’s plenty moist and delicious as is. But if you are in a decadent mood, you can slice a piece and toast and butter it, or pan fry it as French Toast. But that would be gluttonous. (Not that I’ve tried either of those or anything… ahem.)

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Did you enjoy reading or making the recipe from this post? If so, please give it a “like” or a comment. It would be nice to know you are out there and that my posts connect with you.

My Family's Pumpkin Loaf

  • Servings: Makes 2 loaves. 8-12 slices, per loaf
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Dry ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups (437.5 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground nutmeg (Note: if you grate or microplane nutmeg from a whole seed, reduce the amount to 1/2 teaspoon. Freshly grated nutmeg is much more potent than purchased pre-ground nutmeg)
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cardamom, ground cloves, and ground coriander
    • The coriander is optional, but goes well with the orange zest (if using)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher (not table) salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 cups sugar (sounds like a lot, but remember, this makes two loaves!)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 15 oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling. Be sure to read the label carefully)
  • Zest of one orange (optional, but the way I like it)
  • 2/3 cup water


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C)
  2. Line two standard size loaf pans with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang to help remove the pumpkin loaves after baking. Spray with vegetable or olive oil
  3. In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients
  4. In a large bowl, beat sugar, olive oil, eggs, and orange zest (if using) until light and fluffy with a stand- or hand-held mixer. Add pumpkin and blend well
  5. Add dry ingredients and the water to the pumpkin mixture, alternating between the dry ingredients and water, beating well after each addition
  6. Pour into two standard size loaf pans
  7. Prepare to have some amazing aromas in your kitchen!
  8. Bake at 350F (180C) on the center rack for 60 minutes or until loaves test done (toothpick comes out clean). The top of each loaf will crack and may look slightly under-cooked. It will continue baking after it’s removed from the oven
  9. Cool in the loaf pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then remove from pans to cool completely on racks
  10. Once cooled, wrap in plastic wrap or foil. This keeps well at room temperature for up to four days. Or, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to two months. If frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight
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Note: This is an update from the original post from October 2017.

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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