Holy pumpkin what a game changer: Golden Vanilla Pumpkin Bread. Actually, it is so incredibly moist and fluffy, I should call it a loaf cake rather than a bread (more on that below). You know when cake is so moist that when you squeeze it it makes that moist squishy sound? Yep, exactly that. Now, I am a huge fan of pumpkin spice, don’t get me wrong, and I love me some classic pumpkin bread. But I also love, LOVE vanilla – probably one of my absolute favorite flavors – and this pumpkin bread is made with a whole vanilla bean instead of pumpkin spice. That’s right. NO pumpkin spice here. The flavor of the vanilla bean (and don’t skip the whole bean, vanilla extract won’t do, sorry) is so intense and goes insanely well with the pumpkin.
The secret to the ‘golden’? Butternut squash instead of orange pumpkin and a hint of turmeric. That’s right, but don’t worry, you will not taste the turmeric AT ALL, I promise. Not a bit. It is strictly for color and therefore optional. You could also replace the butternut squash with regular pumpkin if you’re not a fan of butternut squash, it will only affect the color of the cake slightly and the taste will probably be about the same. Really, whether you use butternut squash or pumpkin in baked goods almost doesn’t matter, there’s barely any difference in taste, if any.
Loaf Cake versus Quick Bread
I mentioned that I should call it loaf cake instead of bread and if you also always wondered what on earth the difference is, well here you go.
First of all, a ‘bread’, like classic pumpkin bread or banana bread, is really called a ‘quick bread’. Unlike classic breads made with yeast, quick breads are made using baking powder as a leavening agent. There is no need for a resting/raising period. Hence, ‘quick’.
Both loaf cakes and breads are typically baked in a loaf pan and look very similar. However, loaf cakes typically have some sort of icing on top whereas breads don’t. That’s an easy way to tell the difference. I’ve heard people say that the way you dress it – icing or no icing – is the only difference. Kind of like a cupcake versus a muffin. But there’s a little more to it. Quick breads typically have a higher ratio of flour to the rest of the ingredients which makes them less moist and fluffy than loaf cakes. They are typically denser and heavier, not as airy and light as loaf cakes. Often times they contain a little bit less sugar and are therefore less sweet.
Banana bread versus banana cake is a great example. Classic banana breads – like we all now – are typically kind of heavy and dense. Delicious, but not exactly as airy and moist as a cake. Now take this Banana Cake with Pecans & Walnuts in comparison, it is super fluffy and light compared to a bread and has more of a ‘cake-y’ texture. I baked it in a sheet pan but might as well bake it in a loaf pan and you could easily confuse it with a banana bread. Until you take a bite, and you will notice the difference!
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 vanilla bean
- Pinch of turmeric
- Pinch of salt
- 1 15-ounce can butternut squash puree (or pumpkin puree)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup buttermilk (or milk)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pans.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, turmeric, vanilla bean seeds, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin puree and sugars and beat with an electric mixer until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs and melted butter and beat to combine, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
- With mixer on low, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat to combine.
- Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops.
- Bake for about 45 mins, rotating once, until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
- Transfer to wire rack and cool completely before icing.
- Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl and add just enough water until it turns into a thick paste. brush or pour over the cake and let it sit for about 20-30 mins.