The Pumpkin Bars To Kickstart Your "Thankful" Season
Growing up, pumpkin was never my favorite flavor. Instead, apple cider and cinnamon and sugar were my desired fall treat combos - I didn’t hate pumpkin, but it was never my first round pick.
Then, one glorious day, my mom pulled pumpkin bars out of our oven. The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin filled our whole house, enticing my dad, sister and I into the kitchen. From there, it was on. Pumpkin had actually shown up, ready to play the game.
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (yes, you can use olive oil)
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (or, “a dash”)
I love these pumpkin bars because the bread itself is not too sweet. It really is more of a bread than a cake. The cream cheese frosting I use to top the orange loaf? Straight heaven in the form of sugar.
But before we can get to our frosting, we’ve got to get this bread into the oven. Set your oven to 350 and get going.
Beat eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a mixing bowl. Whisk away. Sing some showtunes. Make sure it’s integrated well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Shift these ingredients together well, then combine with the pumpkin mixture.
Bring the whisk out for round two and create the perfect batter.
Pour your concoction into whatever size pan you’d like. Just know, the smaller the pan, the more time it will take. I also feel the need to tell you that since this recipe calls for both baking powder AND baking soda, this bread is gonna RISE. So don’t fill up a dish to the top then be surprised when you’re dealing with a mountain of bread.
Use the knife check to see if your bread is done. In a 15x10x1 dish, the bread should take between 25-30 minutes.
Alright, we can now begin with our frosting.
1 package of cream cheese (3 oz)
2 cups of powder sugar
1/4 cup butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons milk
Here’s the situation. You can follow these ingredients for the frosting, or you can wing it. One way or another, dump your ingredients in a bowl, mix it up, then add milk until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
I am a “let’s just go” gal when it comes to cream cheese frostings and buttercreams - I just start mixing things in, tasting, and continue until I’m satisfied. I almost ALWAYS add more vanilla then the recipe calls for…secret hint, add a squeeze of lemon juice and WOWZA you’ll be rocking and rolling. But hey, you choose. You can be by the book or live life on the edge. It’ll taste good either way.
I know it’s hard, but you need to wait for your pumpkin bread to FULLY COOL before frosting it. Otherwise your cream cheese frosting will slip and slide all over the place. What I do is make the cream cheese frosting while the bread is in the oven, and I store it in its own little container in the fridge. When I brought these to my office Thanksgiving, I kept the frosting separate - this allowed my dairy-free pals to still enjoy pumpkin bread, and everyone else could have as much or as little frosting as they pleased.
These pumpkin bars are about as easy as a pumpkin dessert comes. They’re also an “even better the second day” treat, which never hurts when you’re baking for tomorrow’s holiday party.
Pumpkin may not be my favorite holiday flavor, but these pumpkin bars are for sure one of my favorite holiday treats. Add a cup of coffee, a fireplace, some fuzzy socks…well gosh, I may just eat the whole pan.
Happy baking, friends!