Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread


It’s that time of year again. Now that it is officially September, many feel the sudden relief of finally being able to sate their pumpkin cravings, especially for that fan favorite, the pumpkin bread. To be honest, I hadn’t made pumpkin bread in probably four years. Don’t get me wrong; I love pumpkin! I find excuses to put it in everything from soups to frostings to curries.  I guess I had so many store-bought loaves and a few homemade versions that matched in flavor that I sort of burnt myself out on the monotony of it all. But then I found myself craving cinnamon rolls and I had an epiphany! What if I combine the seriously spicy sensations of cinnamon rolls with the familiar and festive flavors of pumpkin bread? I set out on my journey, cans of puree and bulk bags of ground cinnamon in hand, and I say, I may have just found my family’s annual pumpkin bread.

 For this recipe, I referred to Michael Ruhlman’s ratios for baking. I really enjoy making quick breads because they are just that–they’re quick to put together (even if they do spend forever in the oven), and they’re relatively foolproof. And even if you mess it up somehow, it’s delicious anyway! Plus, the quick bread ratio is the base for so, so many baked treats out there. Know the ratio and it’s as if you really get to “know” the art of the baked good, and your options become unlimited. However, Ruhlman’s ratios are noted for traditional wheat flour-based baking. Grain-free baking presents its own challenges in binding, rise, moisture content (you don’t want it to be too dry and crumbly, nor too gummy), and in some cases, flavor. Thankfully, however, this recipe, with all its adjustments from the original ratio of 2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part egg, and 1 part fat, by weight, still remains simple and delicious.

I decided to keep true to the flavors of a cinnamon roll in that this recipe is not cloyingly sweet like so many pumpkin breads. The bread itself is only lightly sweetened, just like cinnamon roll pastry, and the filling, while indeed sweet, is more dark and warming; a subtlety that makes this a wonderful breakfast bread. The sticky-sweetness of a cinnamon roll comes from the icing. Being that cinnamon roll icing preference seems to be somewhat contentious, with some preferring the drippy powdered-sugar-and-milk icing and some opting instead for spoonfuls of thick cream cheese frosting topped while the bread is still warm. This is why I’m leaving the option up to you. For these photos, I kept with the “unrefined” theme and used a simple icing of coconut milk, melted coconut butter (not to be confused with coconut oil) mixed with only a little bit of maple syrup and vanilla. Feel free to make it your own.

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Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread
{gluten free, grain free, paleo}

5 oz (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 oz (2 tbsp) maple syrup
4 oz (1 1/4 cups) fine-ground blanched almond flour
2 oz (1/2 cup) arrowroot flour
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup coconut sugar (dark brown sugar works as well)
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup softened butter, ghee, or coconut oil (does not need to be melted)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350. Take a 3.5 x 7.5 loaf pan and rub the entire inside of the pan with butter or coconut oil. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the pan and up the long sides, leaving some overhang, like a sling for the bread. Press the paper inside and grease the inside of the pan again.

In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, vanilla, eggs, and maple syrup together and whisk well.

In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt together and blend well.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir well.

In a third smaller bowl, combine the oil/butter/ghee, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

Pour about half of the bread batter into the loaf pan. Then pour/spoon about half of the cinnamon-sugar filling on top of the batter. Next, pour the rest of the pumpkin batter into the pan, then the last bit of the cinnamon filling on the very top. Use a butter knife inserted vertically all the way into the batter to swirl quick patterns.

Bake for 40-50 minutes. Loaf will be done when a bamboo skewer or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow the bread cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then pull the bread out using the parchment paper sling you’ve made (you will probably need to use a knife to release the bread from the pan at the ends), and allow to cool on a cooling rack for about an hour. I will be tasty after the initial cooling, but this bread actually gets better and easier to slice the longer it cools.


Notice that I use a 3.5 x 7.5 loaf pan. This is a fairly small pan, and if you use a larger pan, your bread will be more wide than tall, and you may need to adjust the cooking time down.

I have written this recipe primarily by weight, as I find that baking by weight is more accurate, more consistent, and dirties fewer dishes. I highly encourage you to bake by weight as well, but for those who need volume measurements, my measure is based on the “scoop and level” method.

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