There’s no better fall feeling than coming out of the cold into a warm home filled with the deliciously sweet fragrance of pumpkin and spices! Resist the urge to cut into this quick bread while it cools, then load it up with generous swirls of creamy frosting for a treat that’s worth waiting all year for. Stop there (but why would you stop there?), or go ahead and gild the lily by topping the frosting with a generous amount of crunchy nuts and sweet treats to take this Pumpkin Bread with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting to a jaw-dropping, show-stopping level.
This recipe calls for pure puréed canned pumpkin. It is important to note that this is not the same thing as pumpkin pie filling, which contains sugar and spices. Canned pumpkin is often labelled “pure pumpkin” or “100% pumpkin”, and the only ingredient listed should be….well, pumpkin. If you wanted to, you could roast and purée your own pumpkin, but canned pure pumpkin is definitely simpler! Take note that homemade pumpkin purée is wetter than canned, so you’ll want to be sure to drain it well before adding it to the recipe.
Complimenting the pumpkin flavour in this recipe are the perfect “pumpkin spice” partners that we all know and love – cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. For added depth, this recipe also contains a hint of orange, in both the pumpkin bread itself and in the cream cheese frosting. This quick bread is moist and tender, with a perfectly balanced sweet and spicy flavour. Pumpkin Bread with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting is destined to become your new fall favourite, but with the easy availability of canned pumpkin, you’ll want to make it year-round!
HOW TO FROST AND DECORATE PUMPKIN BREAD
This pumpkin bread is sweet and delicious all on its own, so there’s no actual need to frost it. Enjoy it plain for breakfast or with a little butter alongside a cup of tea. The addition of the orange cream cheese frosting turns the pumpkin bread into a real dessert, and you may wish to leave it at that. A dusting of orange zest and pecans are an elegant topping, but if you’re going that far, why stop there? Load it up with all the sweet toppings and get ready for all the oohs and ahhs!
Step 1: Use a small knife or offset spatula to cover the top of the pumpkin bread with a thick layer of the cream cheese frosting. Go ahead and use all of the frosting, then use the knife to create swirls. It may seem like a lot of frosting, but when you slice the bread you’ll find that each piece will have the exact right amount of creamy, delicious, fluffy icing.
Step 2: Hold a microplane about 8 inches above the frosted pumpkin bread and grate the peel of an orange, letting the orange zest rain down over the loaf. Move the microplane over the entire surface of the loaf while zesting the orange so the frosting is evenly dusted with the orange zest. Grate only the bright orange part of the skin, stopping when you hit the pale orange layer. The bright orange layer contains delicious orange flavour, but the lighter orange and whitish layers of the orange skin can be bitter.
Step 3: Sprinkle chopped pecans in down the centre of the frosting, leaving a 2 inch border of frosting on either side. Sprinkle yogurt covered raisins over the pecans, pressing down lightly if needed to affix them to the icing. Dot the top with jellied pumpkin candies, nestling the candies in the frosting amongst the other toppings. The jellied pumpkin candies that I found were orange flavoured, making them a particularly good fit for this pumpkin bread, but the mellow cream pumpkins that are widely available in the fall would also work well.
Pumpkin Bread with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp grated orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups canned pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling), at room temperature
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup brick-style cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
- zest of an orange
- chopped pecans
- yogurt covered raisins
- jelly pumpkin candies
For the pumpkin bread
- Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350F. Grease a 9"x5" loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg.
- In a separate large bowl, using a hand mixe (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add the pumpkin purée and mix to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the edges of the bowl to make sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 55-70 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan. Place the bread on a wire rack and cool completely.
For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting and toppings
- In a medium size bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter and orange zest. Add the orange juice and vanilla, then beat to combine. Add 1 cup of the icing sugar and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining icing sugar and mix on low speed until all sugar has been mixed in. Increase the speed to high and beat until creamy.
- Frost the pumpkin bread with a thick layer of frosting, spreading it to the edges and swirling with a knife.
- Optional: To garnish the pumpkin bread, dust the top of the loaf with orange zest. Sprinkle with yogurt covered raisins and chopped pecans, and top with jelly pumpkin candies. Cut in slices and serve.
- This recipe calls for several ingredients to be at room temperature. While it may be obvious that creaming butter with other ingredients is just plain easier when the butter isn’t as hard as a brick, it isn’t quite as clear why you shouldn’t use cold eggs or pumpkin. The reason temperature matters is that room temp ingredients help batters come together into smooth and silky emulsions that trap air. Once in the oven, that trapped air expands, resulting in tall, fluffy baked goods. Cold ingredients do the opposite, creating clumpy, curdled batters and dense baked goods. Or, in the case of unbaked items such as in this orange cream cheese frosting, the result would be a lumpy frosting with distinct clumps of cream cheese and butter, instead of a thick, creamy and smooth frosting.
- To ensure an airy and tender pumpkin bread, be careful not to over mix the batter. Once you add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix until just combined.
- Every oven is different, so be sure to check the pumpkin bread after 55 minutes. If it needs additional time, bake for longer, checking every 5 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the pumpkin bread comes out clean. Tent with foil if the top is browning too quickly. It’s also a good idea to place an oven thermometer inside your oven to ensure the temperature is accurate. Even top quality ovens can be off by a few degrees, shifting baking times and impacting results.
- This bread is best serve fresh, the day it is made. The bread will have a crunchy exterior on the first day, which provides a lovely contrast to the soft interior and creamy frosting. The exterior will soften by the second day, but will still be delicious. If you’d like to make this bread in advance, leave the bread unfrosted, wrap it well and freeze it for up to 2 months. Make the orange cream cheese frosting up to 3 days in advance and store it in the fridge. Frost and decorate the defrosted pumpkin bread on the day you plan to serve it.