Yeasted Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Browned Butter


Yeasted Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Browned Butter

With Gratitude and Thanksgiving — What We Have Forgotten

Bread ingredients

“Lee apologized for the dinner like an old fool. He blamed the gas oven which didn’t heat like a good wood stove. He blamed the new breed of turkeys which lacked a something turkeys used to have. But he laughed with them when they told him he was acting like an old woman fishing for compliments.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck


Home cooking and the gender of who cooks these meals is buzzing in the media. It’s not a new discussion though. Ever since women started working full-time outside the home, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner has been a timely topic. There’s lots more too, budgeting, planning, shopping and clean-up. Even a bold essay about not cooking at all. I’ve wanted to comment on each of these blog posts, but my response is long and conflicted. I’ve had spurts of enthusiasm with cooking too. I still do.

I was made to help in the kitchen at an early age, while my three brothers were not. By age twelve, I was making dinner at least five nights a week. Resentment settled in early. My self-righteous indignation fueled more years of anger than I care to admit. But the thing is, the important thing is — I enjoy the process of cooking. I function best when I am using my mind and hands together in harmony. Cooking and baking are activities that nurture my creative soul. I like to feed my family well and know the ingredients in my food. I enjoy sharing what I’ve made with others. So I cook and bake and blog. I am fortunate that I have the time and resources to do so. To banish any seeds of resentment I will take a day off.

Making bread

It is difficult to get dinner on the table after a long day at work, a commute, family stuff and just plain being worn out. Take-out is fine, pizza too. But there is something important we have forgotten. We are the chosen ones. We have food to cook, a stove and a refrigerator. We can drive to the store and there is food there we can buy and bring home to feed our families. And we complain and whine as if it is an entitlement. If you have ever lived with food insecurity you understand. If you have not, I hope you never do.

Making bread

We made potato soup and huge pots of beans. Sunday was the only day of the week when we had a piece of chicken on our plates. Pork chops and roast beef were for special occasions. I had no knowledge of steaks or lamb chops. Yet there was always food. We made enough to share. Our friends and visitors were always asked to stay for dinner, most did. The food was good, wholesome and flavorful. It was a different way of cooking. Nothing was wasted, left overs were made into another meal. It was cooking to nourish and dinner was a place to gather at the end of a long day. In our lives of privilege this is what we have forgotten. This is the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving. To stop the frenzy of our modern world and remember to be thankful.

Yeasted Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Browned Butter


With gratitude I baked this bread to share with you. It is autumn and freshly baked bread with a bowl of homemade soup makes me happy. It’s warm and comforting, the way I like my kitchen. The Yeasted Pumpkin Bread loaded with Cranberries, Pecans and Browned Butter is a rich, moist loaf that has even better flavor the day after it is baked. Toasted the next morning it is a revelation in fall flavors. We took a drive way up the coast to Half Moon Bay and stopped at Pescadero to visit Harley’s Goat Farm. Topping the bread with Harley’s Lavender Goat Cheese and honey from the farm is sublime. If the loaf lasts until the weekend, I’m considering French Toast. Ina’s recipe with orange zest and honey in the batter might be a perfect match for the Yeasted Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Browned Butter. I used Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour to make this bread. I’m glad I did. It is a high protein flour that has a touch of malted barley flour to help yeast breads rise.


The butter sizzles and browns and the scent of toasting pecans signal something fabulous is beginning. When the heady aroma from the warming spices of fall tumble into the bowl to mingle with pumpkin, brown sugar and molasses you realize this might be a great recipe. Slowly adding the browned butter into the bowl there is time to savor the process, to watch the gluten stands begin to stretch into shiny elastic bands. With the pecans and cranberries comes the realization that the bread will be rich with flavor and texture, fit for an autumn celebration. This is my Thanksgiving gift to you.

1/2C unsalted butter
1-1/2C pecans
1C warm water (100°-110°)
1 pkg/2-1/4t active dry yeast
1C canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/3C brown sugar
1T molasses
3C bread flour, I used Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour
2t cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1/8t ginger
1/8t allspice
1C dried cranberries

    Please note: To make this bread recipe a Dutch oven with a lid is needed.

  1. Prepare the browned butter by melting the butter in a saucepan or skillet with a light colored or shiny interior on medium heat. At first the butter may sputter for a bit as the milk solids cook. Gently swirl the pan until the milk solids are a warm toasty brown at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Heat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans across the surface of a sheet pan and toast for 8-10 minutes until they are fragrant and turn a deep mahogany brown. Cool and then chop.
  3. Lightly butter the interior of a large bowl for proofing the bread dough. Line an 8 inch sauté or cake pan with parchment paper. Ideally the diameter of the sauté or cake pan should be one inch smaller than the Dutch oven. Make sure the parchment paper extends past the edges of the pan. This excess paper will be used to lift the bread into the hot Dutch oven.
  4. Pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whipping attachment. Add the active dry yeast and mix until dissolved. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the pumpkin, brown sugar and molasses to the mixing bowl and thoroughly combine.
  5. Remove the whipping attachment from the mixer and replace with the dough hook. To the mixing bowl add the bread flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Mix all the ingredients together, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Resist the temptation to add more flour. When all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, add a tablespoon the cooled brown butter to the mixing bowl. Resist the urge to add more than a tablespoon of butter at a time. Throughly mix the butter into the dough by starting on low speed and increasing to medium speed. Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Repeat the process of adding a tablespoon of browned butter until all the butter has been added to the dough. Scrape all the butter and browned bits from the saucepan or skillet into the mixing bowl and throughly combine. Then mix the dough on medium-low speed for five minutes until the dough is sticky and elastic. The dough will be too wet to handle. Add the cranberries and one cup of the pecans. Mix into the dough so that the cranberries and pecans are evenly dispersed throughout the dough.
  6. Scrape the dough into the buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let proof for one to one and a half hours until almost doubled in size. Deflate the dough while still in the bowl by using a flexible bench scraper or large rubber scraper. Scrape the dough down from the outside edges of the bowl toward the center of the bowl. Then scrape the dough onto the piece of parchment paper that lines the 8 inch sauté or cake pan. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly across the surface of the dough and press then them down into the batter. Let the dough proof for 30-45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Heat the oven to 425° while the dough proofs. Heat the Dutch oven and the lid in the hot oven for 30 minutes.
  7. When the bread is almost doubled in size, and with great care, place the dough into the hot Dutch oven by using the parchment paper as a sling. Cover the Dutch oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°. Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on, and then 10-15 minutes with the lid off. The bread will be a lovely deep tawny brown when it is finished cooking and the internal temperature of the loaf will be 200°. Using the parchment paper as a sling remove the bread from the Dutch oven to cool. Wait until the bread has cooled completely to slice.

Yeasted Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Browned Butter

Bob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour

Bob’s Red Mill graciously gifted me the Artisan Bread Flour I used to make the Yeasted Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Browned Butter. I have no obligation to write about the Artisan Bread Flour and I am expressing my own opinions from the perspective of an avid baker.

This entry was posted in Baking, Breads: Quick & Yeasted and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Yeasted Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Browned Butter

  1. This is the perfect bread to celebrate Thanksgiving — with everything in that is delicious: Pecans, cranberries, and of course, brown butter. It looks so moist and tasty, Deb! Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Carol Sacks says:

    This bread is gorgeous and inventive, and your post is so smart and thoughtful. Good reminder to all of us. Warmest wishes to you and your family this Thanksgiving.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Carol! I needed to speak up, we truly have so much to be thankful about. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  3. Such great points here. I do feel lucky to be able to choose to cook and to have plenty of food to cook. And, it is such a rewarding, creative process. This bread looks so perfect for this week. I hope you have a little left for making French toast. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the gracious comment Lisa! We are blessed to to be able to immerse ourselves in cooking and feeding our families. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  4. this bread looks amazing… and i can practically smell it already just from your beautiful description!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Natalie! Baking the bread is the best, the aroma of the yeasted bread, spices and browned butter is seductive.

  5. Deena Kakaya says:

    Deb, you were 12? wow. I can not imagine many twelve year old’s these days would be doing the same and in a way, I think that is a great shame.

    Your bread is such a lovely colour and all that texture looks like it will be an addictive sort of recipe. x

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting Denna! My childhood was short. It was filled with joy and beauty and also a good measure of terror. It is difficult to share. But it is part of me and has shaped the person I am and how I approach my time in the kitchen.

  6. Simona says:

    This bread looks delicious!

  7. You know how I love brown butter, this bread looks exceptional!

  8. valentina says:

    This looks absolutely amazing, Deb. Everyone should partake in this deliciousness — I’m sharing it all over the place! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! XOXO

  9. Gerlinde says:

    What a great post for Thanksgiving and being grateful. I remember the days when food was scarce, a pot of soup was the norm and nothing was wasted. Your bread looks wonderful and nourishing . Happy Thanksgiving .

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting Gerlinde! We are so blessed with abundant food it is easy to forget how fortunate we are. Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Cathy says:

    That does look good and wholesome. Sometimes a bowl of soup and chunk of bread tastes like the best thing ever! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Deb!

  11. Jacquee says:

    Brown butter, pecan AND molasses!! This bread looks and sounds perfectly hearty for fall and the colour says fall. I avoided the kitchen until a few years ago after university. Because it was by choice, I truly love it.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting Jacquee! I did my best to include all my fall favorites in this recipe. I have always enjoyed the creating part of cooking and baking. It is something I needed to learn about myself though.

  12. mimi says:

    Great post! Sad that you were forced to cook, though. I’m actually surprised you cook by choice now. And the gender thing is so ridiculous. This bread is gorgeous and sounds absolutely delicious. I always make something like this to pair with stinky cheeses, but I’ve never used browned butter. Great idea!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the gracious comment Mimi! My parents were traditional, old-school, our childhood reflected these traditional values. It is the creating part of cooking and baking I enjoy.

  13. Ala says:

    Loved all your food thoughts here, Deb, as usual–especially the bit about being grateful that we do have all that food to prep, and to feed ourselves, and everything else that comes along with it! I’ll forever associate pumpkin bread with this lovely post. Happy holidays to you and your family!

  14. Patty says:

    I can tell by your post that you love to bake! Your bread is hitting all the right notes for me and the idea of French toast sounds perfect. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Deb:)

  15. This is truly a gift of a recipe. We have so much to be thankful for.

  16. That inspiration section is beautiful and poignant, Deb. Thanks for writing it, and for putting all who read it in touch with what really matters. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  17. Joyti says:

    What a lovely post. I hope people are teaching their sons to cook nowadays as well. I used to cook dinner for my family as a teenager, just like you did.

    And the yeasted pumpkin bread! Delicious! Browned butter, pecans, and cranberries – yum!!!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for sharing Joyti, our personal histories of cooking are so much more than a collection of recipes. The Yeasted Pumpkin Bread is good, so very good!

  18. Goat cheese and honey sounds so good with your delicious bread. thank you for the inspiration.

  19. Beautiful loaf of bread! Love all those pecans and cranberries that you can see in a slice of the bread – so appetizing. I love your insightful posts and how open you are!

  20. What a lovely bread and a good use of pumpkin! The pecans and cranberries are such a festive flavor. Cheers!

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  22. Deb, with the business of the holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving, this post almost slipped through the cracks of my inbox. I’m so very glad it didn’t. Growing up, we were a family of modest means. To say we were poor might be an exaggeration, however, money was most often tight, and with ten siblings, we waited our turn for new shoes or other necessities. Whatever we lacked in ‘extras’ was made up for with the rich abundance of food that was always on our table. Both my parents cooked and baked. My grandmother lived with us and she too was proficient in the kitchen. Dinner found us gathered around a table that was cozy tight, sharing stories, laughter and delicious food. With only one child and a husband who often worked through the dinner hour, sadly, I regret not carrying on that particular tradition.
    This bread! worth making a tradition. I’m thinking a slathering of cream cheese and a drizzle of honey is the way to go.

  23. Liren says:

    What a wonderful reminder to keep close what is truly important. I am always trying to find ways to impart this on my children – and looking back at my own childhood, it’s always those simple meals and the family around the table that was most meaningful, regardless of who cooked it. What a lovely, insightful post, Deb!

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