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Pumpkin Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted Sep 11 2012 3:01am

Well here you go. My first pumpkin recipe of the season and I’ve got many more where this came from.

I’ve held off as long as I can, but now the pumpkin floodgates have opened.

This bread was the first thing I made after arriving home in San Diego after a month in Aruba . I had been dreaming about pumpkin anything the entire month of August in the 95F degree Caribbean heat and humidity. Go figure.

All I wanted was pumpkin. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I made this smoothie and tried convince myself that was good enough. Sure, it’s a great fall-flavored smoothie, but it wasn’t pumpkin.

Like a pregnant woman who’s craving pickles and sends her husband out at 3am for them, I was a woman on a mission in search of canned pumpkin puree. Just like I went to five grocery stores on the island to find a box of Jello instant chocolate pudding mix for the three ingredient Frozen Chocolate Wafer Cake I made, I went to six grocery stores to find canned pumpkin, but came up empty handed. I knew I would but I had to at least try anyway.

Pumpkin puree tends to be a seasonal item even in the U.S. where it’s well-loved. Most other countries don’t get our obsession with pumpkin and I pity international food blog readers who read U.S.-based blogs for three months a year. We’re making pumpkin breads, smoothies , pies , brownies, pumpkin salads and it’s one big pumpkin fest and they can’t even buy it. Steaming, mashing, and pureeing squash or sweet potatoes is likely the closest substitute.

I had elaborately built up this recipe so much in my mind so much that I even had myself a little worried about what if it didn’t turn out like I had envisioned. Nothing like unpacking suitcases, doing vacation laundry, being jet-lagged, and rather than being concerned about the piles of mail and dust bunnies that had collected while we were gone, I was really only concerned about having success with this pumpkin banana bread. I had been fantasizing about it for what seemed like years.

All I had to do was get my hands on a can of pumpkin puree, which was easy because I knew I had two cans of Trader Joe’s pumpkin puree stashed in my cupboard from last fall. They didn’t expire until October 2014. Pumpkin hoarders take note that you can stash away pumpkin puree for a couple years and still be safe in case you can’t get Libby’s year round in your area.

Luckily, this bread turned out to be everything I wanted and more.

The golden top layer is the bread-top equivalent of a muffin top. Since I go around picking off muffin tops , you can use your imagine about what happened to the top layer on all the slices of this bread.

The bread’s flavor is equally balanced between pumpkin bread and banana bread. If desired, enhance the pumpkin flavor by adding more pumpkin puree and cutting back on the mashed bananas a bit, or by adding a more generous amount of pumpkin pie spice. However, I wanted pumpkin-banana bread, not just pumpkin bread, and am pleased with the balance. I have another recipe coming for those who want unadulterated pumpkin bread.

The moisture and softness level of the bread is out of this world. The addition of Greek yogurt , pumpkin puree, bananas, a box of instant pudding mix, and a tablespoon of molasses not only all boost the flavor depth and profile of the bread, but each of those ingredients also tenderize it. If you’re a dry bread hater like I am, you have nothing to worry about with this loaf.

It’s also a snap to make. No creaming of ingredients, just stir everything into one big bowl, pour into a loaf pan, and bake. I’m sure you could bake the batter as muffins or in a Bundt or tube-cake pan, too.

This is the third banana bread recipe in my Banana Bread Fest series. Banana Bread with Browned Butter Glaze and Zucchini Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting were the first two recipes. Just like I added glaze and frosting to those breads, this one is no different.

I went with the same Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting that I made for the zucchini banana bread, and it worked just as well with pumpkin as it did with zucchini. I try to pair my vegetables with frosting whenever possible.

The tang of the cream cheese, the comforting and homey quality imparted from the browned butter, counterbalanced with the sweetness from the confectioners’ sugar make it a frosting that I slather generously on the bread.

I don’t do it for the photographs because it looks like a big, white, smeary mess, but spreading the frosting all over the interior surface of a slice of bread, like you’re buttering a slice of bread, is simply divine and highly recommended.

And so it begins. Welcome to Pumpkin Season 2012.

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Pumpkin Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf (Note: I made as one 9-by-5-inch loaf but you may wish to divide batter among two 8-by-4-inch loaves and reduce baking time by about 10 minutes; or bake as 3 or more mini loaves, bake in a 9-inch square pan, as 12-cup Bundt cake, or as muffins; adjusting baking times as necessary)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (half of one stick)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

5 to 6 ounces vanilla or plain yogurt (one standard-sized small container; Greek-style preferred, or sour cream may be substituted; I use Chobani Vanilla )

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon unsulphered molasses, optional (I use Grandma’s )

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 cup mashed bananas (about 1 1/2 large or 2 small bananas)

1/3 cup raisins, shredded carrots, shredded coconut flakes, nuts, chocolate chips, optional (I didn’t use any)

one 3.4-ounce box vanilla instant pudding mix (not Cook ‘n Serve), optional see notes below

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (pumpkin pie spice is largely a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger if you find it in your area)

1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350F, spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray with flour (I use Pam for Baking ) or grease and flour the pan(s)s; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute. To the melted butter, add the sugars, egg, yogurt, vanilla, molasses, and stir or whisk to combine. Add pumpkin puree, bananas, and stir to incorporate.

Add the optional add-ins, dry pudding mix (Note: You are not making pudding; simply add the mix as a dry ingredient. You don’t have to use pudding mix but it creates wonderful moisture and flavor in the bread. If omitting, you may wish to add an additional 1/4 cup granulated sugar and an additional 1/4  to 1/3 cup flour, based on taste preference and how your batter looks), cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, cloves and stir to combine (All spices should be added to taste; if you like a heavier cinnamon or pumpkin-pie flavor, add more. If you don’t keep them all on hand, not a big deal; use what you do have)

Add the flour, baking soda, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or bread will be tougher as the gluten will over-develop; this is a fairly thick batter and thicker than any previous banana bread batters and with the least amount of flour added (I used Trader Joe’s pumpkin puree which was thick, dense, and well-packed; if using another brand of pumpkin puree which is thinner, you may wish to increase the flour to 1 3/4 cups or slightly over, but at 1 2/3 cups flour my batter was already quite thick). Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for about 60 to 68 minutes (this is for one 9-by-5-inch loaf), or until top is golden and set, and a wooden skewer, cake tester, or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If bread is browning a bit fast on the top, you may wish to lower your oven temperature to 325F or tent the pan with foil in approximately the last 20 minutes of cooking. Allow bread to cool in the loaf pan for at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes just over 1 cup frosting

1/4 cup butter (half of one stick)

4 tablespoons cream cheese

1 1/2 cups+ confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoons+ cream or milk, optional and to taste

You can brown the butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop, heating over medium heat. Swirl the pan or stir frequently for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the sputtering, crackling, and foaming has subsided, the butter has browned, and has a nutty aroma. Watch it closely so that it doesn’t go from browned and nutty to burnt and inedible.

Or, brown the butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl by heating it on high power, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sputtering, crackling, and foaming has subsided, the butter has browned, and has a nutty aroma. The same rules apply in the microwave as on the stovetop; watch it closely and start checking it every 15-to-30 seconds starting at about the 5-minute mark, so that it doesn’t go from browned and nutty to burnt and inedible.

Transfer hot butter to medium-sized mixing bowl and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Based on desired frosting consistency and taste preference, add the cream or milk one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached, playing with sugar and cream ratios as necessary. (I only use butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla in this frosting, no cream). Drizzle or spread frosting over the top of the bread before slicing and serving; or slice, serve, and frost each piece individually. I prefer to use the frosting like butter and spread it liberally on the interior surface of a slice. Store extra frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Store unfrosted bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or store frosted bread in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Unfrosted bread can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Related Banana Bread Recipes:

Banana Bread with Vanilla Browned Butter GlazeBanana Bread Fest Week 1

Zucchini Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese FrostingBanana Bread Fest Week 2

Related Pumpkin Recipes – All Pumpkin Recipes are Here including:

Pumpkin Spiced Brown Rice Tempeh and Cranberry Salad (vegan, gluten free if gluten-free tempeh is used)

Pumpkin Honey Tofu (GF, use agave instead of honey to keep vegan) – Due to the method used of freezing the tofu, then thawing it, then marinating and cooking it, this tofu turns out incredibly spongy and bread-like; a tofu-based pumpkin bread. I highly recommend it.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars (vegan, GF)

Do you like pumpkin?

I have seen so many pumpkin recipes already on blogs and on Pinterest already this fall that I almost feel like I’m late to the Pumpkin Party, and it’s only early September.

I have all my Pumpkin Recipes here but have at least three more pumpkin recipes that I’ve already made the past couple weeks. I will try to space them out and not overwhelm you with pumpkin. Is one a week okay?

I have a Pumpkin Pinterest Board

A couple random tidbits that I’ve learned about canned pumpkin puree:

It’s not really pumpkin in the cans, it’s a blend of pureed squashes.

I’ve heard from many people who’ve actually boiled or cooked and then mashed and pureed real pumpkins that they prefer the pumpkin puree sold in cans. For two bucks, it’s one of those situations on the work-reward-tastetest scale, where I will continue to happily buy storebought, which means I have more time to bake up treats.

If you eat enough brightly colored orange food, you will turn orange. Right before Skylar’s first birthday she was on a pureed sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin kick and we took her to the pediatrician for her one-year checkup and the first words out of our doctor’s mouth was, “Has she been eating lots of orange food? She looks a little on the orange side.” After that we curtailed the orange foods for a bit.

Do you have any favorite pumpkin bread or pumpkin-anything recipes?

Feel free to link them up! I love finding out about tried-and-true favorites.

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