Like chocolate zucchini bread, pumpkin bread is a baked good that I love more than I really should. The typical recipe calls for two cups of sugar and a cup of oil, which is fine if you are a paragon of self-control who is satisfied by a modest slice. But since I am liable to eat half a loaf in one sitting, I need a pumpkin bread recipe that is delicious without being heavily reliant on sugar and fat.
There are lots lower-sugar pumpkin bread recipes floating around various blogs, but it wasn't clear to me what the rational was behind various substitutions. Sugar provides moisture and texture to baked goods in addition to sweetness, and I feared that I would end up with a desiccated lump instead of a loaf of bread. I also wasn't sure what to do about the oil--many sources recommend substituting unsweetened applesauce, but past experience with applesauce-for-oil baked goods left me less than impressed.
After perusing the recommendations in this comment thread on the Kitchn, I decided to try reducing the sugar by one-third. Additionally, I used brown sugar instead of white at the suggestion of a Harvard School of Public Health article about muffins--since brown sugar has a more complex flavor, it provides more perceived sweetness than white sugar. Since I wasn't keen on applesauce, I opted to use Greek yogurt in lieu of oil, basing my calculations on Stonyfield's substitution guide.
I used the Betty Crocker pumpkin bread recipe as a template: the original 1 2/3 cups white sugar became 1 cup brown sugar (I reduced the sugar slightly more than one-third for measuring simplicity), and the original 2/3 cup oil became 1/2 cup Greek yogurt. I also added allspice and ginger for a more nuanced spice profile. Then I poured my batter into pans, put them in the oven, and crossed my fingers.
Spoiler alert: the resulting loaves were delicious. The texture is a slightly different than you may be accustomed to--the crumb is a bit looser instead of dense and cake-like. I've debated with myself for a few days about what to call this recipe--Light Pumpkin Bread? Low-Sugar Pumpkin Bread? Better-for-You Pumpkin Bread? But what my version tastes like is a true pumpkin bread: the focus is on the actual pumpkin and spices instead of sugar. It's not a paler, healthier imitation; it's the real deal.
- 15-ounce can pumpkin (1 3/4 cups)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease the short ends of two 8 inch x 4 inch loaf pans. Line the sides and bottom of pans with a sheet of wax paper, leaving a few inches of extra wax paper on each side so that the bread can be easily lifted from the pans.
In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, sugar, yogurt, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix just until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaves comes out clean.
Place loaves in pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Holding both sides of the wax paper, remove loaves from pans, gently loosening the ends with a spatula if needed. Place loaves on wire rack to cool completely. Peel wax paper from cooled loaves, tightly wrap, and store in refrigerator.