Remember when pumpkin spice lattes were peak cool? And then remember when they were decidedly not? Yeah, that journey was fast—even the pumpkins have whiplash. But a rising tide does lift all boats, which explains why anything in the pumpkin family still enjoys a boost from the PSL love once autumn arrives. Pumpkin bread falls within this category, of course—slices are on offer at Starbucks and pre-school bake sales as soon as the temperature dips below 80. Pumpkin bread can be basic, sure.
And it can be decidedly not. Brought into the twenty-first century with a generous shower of flaky Maldon salt and dark maple syrup, pumpkin bread—at least this pumpkin bread—is complex, tender, irresistible at all times of day. I find myself slicing off small bites to enjoy with morning coffee or as an afternoon snack, unintentionally whittling the loaf away. But it was a spontaneous dinner party that really showed me the potential of pumpkin bread. With no dessert on hand, I cut fat slices of this dark pumpkin loaf and served them with little tumblers of amaro.
I didn’t need a proper dessert. Turns out the pumpkin loaf paired with amaro was divine: earthy squash speaking to the drink’s herbal notes, warming spices matching the warmth of the liqueur, Maldon salt making all the flavors dance. It’s pumpkin bread in party clothes. If you’re not already having a bash, treating yourself to a slice is one.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1-½ tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin purée
2/3 cup vegetable oil
Flaky salt, such as Maldon
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two 9x5x3–inch loaf pans with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
3. Combine the eggs, maple syrup, pumpkin purée, and oil in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir well with a spatula until all ingredients are incorporated.
4. Divide the batter between prepared pans. Sprinkle flaky salt generously across the top of the batter.
5. Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan.
Photograph by Jivan Davé