Brown Sugar Pumpkin Loaf
This Brown Sugar Pumpkin Loaf combines my favorite pumpkin cake with a buttery brown sugar icing – like in these reader-favorite pumpkin muffins! The spiced pumpkin base goes perfectly with the cozy brown sugar icing and feels like the ultimate fall loaf.
Brown Sugar Pumpkin Loaf
This fall season I knew I wanted to simplify the pumpkin loaf on my blog and present an easier-to-make, lightly sweetened loaf with a simple icing on top. One of the top recipes on my blog every pumpkin season is a brown sugar iced pumpkin muffin, so I thought I’d combine two of my favorite fall recipes in this one delicious, simple loaf. And the result is a quick pumpkin loaf cake topped with a brown sugar icing. The brown sugar adds a lovely rich flavor to the icing, while a little plant-based butter brings a touch of buttery flavor – a huge step up from a standard icing made just from powdered sugar. The icing takes a bit more work as it needs to be heated and then cooled before drizzling over the cake, but I promise the effort is 100% worth it.
Why You’ll Love This Loaf
- Fluffy and moist cake texture
- Made with pantry staple ingredients
- Flavorful icing made with brown sugar
- Perfectly spiced with autumnal flavors
What You’ll Need for the Loaf
- All-purpose flour makes up the bulk of the loaf cake batter. I like to use an unbleached variety, but any all-purpose flour will work.
- Whole wheat pastry flour makes this loaf extra fluffy. I highly recommend stocking your pantry with this flour as it makes for wonderfully fluffy snack cakes and muffins. In a pinch, you can use all-purpose flour instead.
- Baking powder & baking soda leaven this loaf cake.
- Salt enhances flavor.
- Spices add the cozy, autumnal flavor we all love. I chose a mix of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, with an emphasis on the cinnamon 😉
- Brown sugar adds sweetness, of course, and flavor (thanks to the molasses).
- Olive oil adds moisture to this cake. A regular vegetable oil or avocado oil can be used as well.
- Vanilla extract adds flavor. You can use vanilla paste or extract.
- Eggs bind the ingredients together. Your favorite egg replacement should work in this recipe but I haven’t tested this myself.
- Pumpkin purée adds pumpkin flavor! And moisture, too. I like the Libby brand for my baking.
- Almond milk also adds moisture. You can use your favorite plant-based milk or regular milk.
What You’ll Need for the Icing
- Light brown sugar brings the rich flavor of brown sugar to the icing. It takes this icing from a standard loaf icing to an out-of-this-world flavorful icing.
- Plant-based butter adds a light buttery flavor to the icing. Feel free to use regular butter if you aren’t dairy-free. I used the Country Crock Plant Butter Sticks with Olive Oil.
- Plant-based milk thins out the icing. You can use your favorite plant-based milk or regular milk. I used oat milk.
- Powdered sugar thickens (and sweetens!) the icing and really gives it that classic icing texture.
How do I make this vegan? Because this cake comes together by mixing the wet and dry ingredients and then combining them (like a quick bread), you should be able to use your favorite egg replacer (though I haven’t tested this myself).
Can I halve the spice? Definitely. If you prefer a lightly spiced loaf, then halving the spices is totally okay.
Will pumpkin pie spice work? Yes, you can use pumpkin pie spice. I would add 4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice and 4 tsp of ground cinnamon.
Can I use regular butter and milk? Yes, regular butter and milk will work just fine in this recipe and won’t affect the outcome of the loaf or icing.
- 1 cup (116g) whole wheat pastry flour (see Note 1)
- 3/4 cup (98g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 cup (150g) light brown sugar, lightly packed (see Note 2)
- 1/3 cup olive oil (or other baking oil)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs (cold is fine)
- 3/4 cup (180g) pumpkin purée (I like Libby's brand)
- 3/4 cup almond milk (or other plant-based milk)
Brown Sugar Icing
- 3/4 cup (156g) light brown sugar, packed
- 6 Tbsp oat milk (or other plant-based milk)
- 3 Tbsp (42g) plant-based butter (or regular butter)
- 2 cups (240g) powdered sugar, sifted
Make the Pumpkin Loaf
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare an 8x4" loaf pan by spraying it with non-stick spray and lining the bottom and two long sides with a single piece of parchment paper - fold the excess over the sides and trim.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside,
- In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, olive oil, vanilla extract, eggs, pumpkin purée, and almond milk until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat until combined and smooth.
- Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. "Cut" the top of the batter by running a butter knife or chopstick right down the long middle (to promote cracking down the center of the loaf).
- Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out with a couple of crumbs. Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Run a butter knife along the edges of the loaf that directly touch the pan. Lift parchment paper and loaf up and out of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Peel off the paper and allow the loaf to cool completely.
Ice the Loaf
- Once the loaf is completely cool, you can make the icing. In a small saucepan, add the brown sugar, butter, and almond milk.
- Place over a medium-high heat and whisk. Bring just to a full boil (bubbles all over the surface) and immediately remove from the heat.
- Add in the sifted powdered sugar and whisk until combined. This may take a minute or two. If you see any tiny clumps of rogue powdered sugar that refuse to whisk in, you can remove those with a spoon.
- Let the glaze mixture cool and thicken for 10-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes to break the surface of the setting sugar.
- After about 15 minutes of cooling/stirring, the glaze should reach a thicker consistency (it should take 2-3 seconds to disappear into itself when drizzled with a spoon).
- Prepare to glaze the loaf by placing a baking sheet or paper towels under the cooling rack to catch the excess glaze - if you want to "save" the excess glaze, use a baking sheet.
- Slowly pour the glaze straight from the pan onto the loaf, starting in the center of one end and pouring to the other end. Immediately repeat this process, adding two layers of glaze.
- Allow the icing to set before slicing. This allows for cleaner slices of cake. Slice and enjoy!
- Store any leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator - this ensures the icing won't melt into the cake (which can happen at room temperature).
- Flour: all-purpose flour can be used in place of the whole wheat pastry flour. You'll use 1 cup (130g) of all-purpose flour in place of the 1 cup of WWPF.
- Light Brown Sugar: I like to use the measuring cup to scoop the brown sugar directly and then level it off with a butter knife. No need to tightly pack the sugar.
- Oil: any baking oil will work in this recipe! I like olive oil, but an avocado oil or vegetable oil will also work.
- Eggs: I used my eggs straight from the refrigerator for this recipe.
- Plant-Based Milk: any milk will work in both the cake and icing. Feel free to use your favorite plant-based or regular milk.
- Plant-Based Butter: I used Country Crock Plant Butter Sticks with Olive Oil for the icing, but any plant-based or regular butter will work.