Culinary mishaps: Pumpkin bread edition

Image of pumpkin bread
Fran Loomis/Pixabay/Creative Commons

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To begin, I am by no means a baker. But for someone who is not a baker, I can get unnecessarily confident in the kitchen. Sometimes, this overconfidence has its consequences — consequences that can sometimes come in the form of bad pumpkin bread. 

This all began when I decided to make a pumpkin bread recipe for my Eating Berkeley article this week. Since I make banana bread pretty often, I figured it’s essentially the same thing (spoiler alert: it’s not). So, I made assumptions about the recipe I should not have. The result was — as probably predicted by everyone around me except myself — not very good. This ultimately led me to throw the whole loaf away and starting again with an actual recipe. But, here is what I learned from my mistakes.

  • Preheat the oven. This is a very important step that is often overlooked by many people, especially me.  But preheating the oven is important especially when making baked goods because baking soda and powder are both activated by heat. 
  • Don’t mix the dough thoroughly. Pumpkin bread, and many other sweet cakes, require you to barely mix the ingredients — only until the flour is combined — so that the batter bakes well in the oven. I’m sure there is some scientific reason, but all you need to know is that it simply works better.
  • Pay attention to how much of each ingredient you are adding. It is important to measure all of your ingredients and keep track of how many ¼ cups of sugar you have put into the batter, or else you will overcorrect yourself.  
  • Be wary of spices. I am the kind of person who loves to season their food. I love to experiment with different spices to make sure you can really taste them in what you’re eating. However, this is a slippery slope when it comes to pumpkin bread because pumpkin is a flavor that can easily be overpowered by cinnamon. 
  • Be patient. One thing I did not know about pumpkin bread, was how much time it takes to bake it — 1 hour and 5 minutes to be exact. So, my word of advice is to set the proper amount of time aside to cook and bake your loaf. And also, don’t start at 1 a.m.

What I learned from this process, I applied to the pumpkin bread I made the next day, resulting in a soft, and delicious loaf that I happily ate with my family. The second time around was the charm. Here’s the recipe I followed after the first mishap:


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cups refined coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together pumpkin, vanilla, brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin spice, eggs and coconut oil. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  5. Combine just until the flour disappears.
  6. Pour into a greased bread pan.
  7. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy!

Contact Isabella Carreno at [email protected].