Pumpkinhead Bread

October 26th is National Pumpkin Day. So, naturally, I'm posting another pumpkin recipe today! I actually paired it with the Roasted Turkey & Pumpkin Chili that I shared earlier...It's Pumpkinhead Bread. The crust is buttery, and the inside is delicate and moist. Made with Pumpkinhead Ale and Pumpkin Butter, this bread has a unique flavor and can be served in a sweet or savory fashion. It only has 6 ingredients and is extremely easy to make. No activating any yeast, no bread flour required, no kneading, no waiting for dough to rise...this is a simple, delicious bread that you can make any time!

I came up with this recipe because I had a couple leftover bottles of Pumpkinhead Ale from the weekend. What's a girl to do when she's got a few people over but only has two beers left? Instead of drinking it, make something out of it! I tried looking up bread recipes with pumpkin ale online, but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a soft texture similar-ish to banana nut bread, but crunch from the crust.

After expanding my search to any kind of beer bread, I finally found a recipe on a blog, Gimme Some Oven. It was for a Honey Beer Bread. Coincidentally...Ali, the author, came up with that bread because she had leftover "weekend beer", as well. (I took this as a sign from the Kitchen Gods that this recipe would not disappoint!)

The ingredients included honey, but I thought it was a perfect opportunity to substitute Pumpkin Butter instead! This seasonal delight from Trader Joe's (yes, another Trader Joe's product) is made from pumpkin puree cooked down with spices and has hints of lemon. I had bought a jar, then it just sat in my pantry while I thought of some interesting use other than as a spread. Here was my chance! (Kitchen Gods were giving me all the signs!)

Much like wine, I wouldn't recommend cooking or baking with a beer unless you like how it tastes. I like Shipyard's Pumpkinhead because it's smooth, but it has a light pumpkin and spice flavor. You can also use any pumpkin beer that you prefer, whether that's something as common as Blue Moon's Harvest Pumpkin or the specialty Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.

In addition to the beer and pumpkin butter, the dough only needed all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. I sifted all of the dry ingredients together into a large bowl, made a well in the center, then slowly poured in the beer and pumpkin butter.

With a folding motion, I used a spatula to fully incorporate all of the ingredients and lightly knead everything together. However, I made sure not to over-mix. The batter will look sticky and slightly lumpy. 

To prepare the loaf pan, I poured in 2 tbsp of melted butter and spread that on the bottom. I spooned in the bread dough, then topped it with another 2 tbsp of melted butter. This step is important, not only for flavor, but also to get that crunchy crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

The smell...Oh my god, that smell. It will fill your house and you will love it, that smell...Hoppy notes of pale ale, a whiff of cinnamon and nutmeg, browning butter...

Mmmmmmmmm. Bread.   

After about 10 - 15 minutes of resting time, you can slice the loaf. See the different sized air bubbles throughout the bread? This is why it's important to not over-knead when making the dough. It helps give your loaf a soft texture, with some chewiness! The Pumpkin Butter gives you a hint of sweetness and spice, and it keeps the bread moist. Although there is no yeast in the recipe, the flavor of the beer still provides that classic yeast-bread flavor. It's great all on its own, served alongside soups (perfect for dipping in broths and sauces!), or even as breakfast with a cup of coffee! (I'm seriously thinking about turning some slices into French Toast...)

Have leftover beer? Bake bread! :)

Pumpkinhead Bread (makes 1 loaf; adapted from Gimme Some Oven: Honey Beer Bread)

Print Recipe
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 12-oz bottle Shipyard Brewery Pumpkinhead Ale (*Or a Pumpkin Ale of your choice)
3 tbsp Pumpkin Butter (*I used Trader Joe's brand)
4 tbsp Butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Use a whisk or fork to make sure to blend all of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, microwave the pumpkin butter for 30 seconds to soften it and make it easier to blend. Then, whisk in the pumpkin ale. Allow most of the bubbles to disappear.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, slowly pour in the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Use a folding motion to incorporate everything, but do not over-knead. (*The dough will be sticky and slightly lumpy.)
  5. Spread 2 tbsp of the melted butter in the bottom of a 9x5" loaf pan, then pour in the bread dough and spread it evenly into the loaf pan. Finally, pour in and spread the last 2 tbsp of melted butter on top of the dough.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread should come out clean. 
  7. Let the bread rest and cool slightly for 10 minutes, then slice and serve. Enjoy with butter, jam, or pumpkin butter!