7-spice Pumpkin Bread

Chinese 5 spice mini pumpkin bread with cream cheese frosting
Growing up here, I feel the almost imperceptible California shift from late summer into fall. Newbies to this state, especially from the East, think I’m crazy.

Yesterday, I left my home, stepping into a darkening evening full of clouds and chill. Defiantly, I put the top down on my car but resigned to wrap myself in a scarf as a buffer to the cold. When did these days begin to shorten? Weeks ago, but I only noticed yesterday. Autumn is my favorite season. To me, it’s a “renewal” – a description usually left for spring. Fat pumpkins and squash almost magically appear on the ground – they’ve been there, growing for months, but only now say, “Look at me.” Trees explode in a riot of color – plum, gold, orange and russet. Yes, some of our trees actually do change color. The sky feels alive with a fresh chill or, alternately, the warm Santa Ana winds. Fall gives me reason again to simmer rich stews and comforting soups for hours, filling the house with superb smells. My long-dusty fireplace again crackles with burning logs.

Autumn is the time to draw within, to take stock of ourselves and to contemplate. It’s a time to close our doors and windows to our neighbors and snuggle in with ourselves. It’s a perfect time to prune back our over-extended commitments, to focus on our essence, to become cozy with who we are. Autumn is not a sad dying, but its own living – an insular living that renews in its own way – a quiet Yin to spring’s Yang. Autumn is a time to reconnect with ourselves.

Pumpkin-spice mania has had its run – while I love pumpkin anything, this is my last autumnal pumpkin recipe for this year…

7-spice Pumpkin Bread

  • Servings: 3 mini loaves
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This is my go-to recipe for using up leftover canned pureed pumpkin. Instead of making one large loaf, I like baking mini loaves so I can eat one now and freeze the rest for a rainy day…or tomorrow.


  • 7.5 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Butter and flour 3 mini loaf pans (or one standard size loaf pan). In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, Chinese 5-spice, nutmeg and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined (don’t over-mix).
  2. Pour batter evenly into the tins. Don’t overfill. Bake 35-45 minutes (longer for a standard loaf pan) or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and enjoy. I smother my bread with maple cream cheese frosting and maple walnuts.



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