olive oil pumpkin bread with bourbon cream

Last night, four medical students sat in my living room studying a box of bones. Actual human bones. Apparently, when you’re in medical school, the library will check you out a tenor saxophone-sized case full of bones if you need to study or try your best “alas, poor Yorrick”. I am not a superstitious person, but I’m pretty weirded out by this terror box that my spouse brought home. So when dinner was over and the bones came out, I made myself busy in the kitchen making dessert.


This is a simple pumpkin bread recipe that relies on ingredients that you should already have on hand (except for the pumpkin puree). And quick breads are very forgiving – you have to try very hard to mess one of these up, and even if you under- or over-bake it, you’re still going to end up with something pretty nice. The bourbon cream is (just lightly sweetened boozed-up whipped cream) elevates it a bit, bringing it out of breakfast territory and into casual entertaining dessert territory. It would also be great with some ice cream or goat cheese.


A quick note on scale: this recipe supposedly makes three loaves. I poured half the batter into a loaf pan and half into an 9×9 pan like you’d use for brownies. Feel free to cut the recipe in half (in which case you should be able to fit it into a large loaf pan or a square baking dish of some sort) or just make the whole batch and wrap one of them up. Sealed well, this should keep at least a week in the fridge and a couple of months in the freezer.


Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread with Bourbon Cream

makes 3 smallish loaves or 2 medium-large loaves (easily scaled down)
adapted from Serious Eats


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup bourbon or water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (canned is fine, or roast a pumpkin or squash and puree the innards)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves (I used 1/2 teaspoon, since I find cloves overwhelming sometimes)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds (white or black, or a combination)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
  • 1/4 cup good bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • sugar to taste (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans or square pans, or three smaller loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until well-combined. Add the olive oil, bourbon or water, sugar, and pumpkin and whisk until well-combined. Add the flour, salt, spices, and baking soda and stir with a wooden spoon until well-combined (do not overmix). Stir in the sesame seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and put them in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pans and continue to bake for another 15. Test a loaf by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the middle – if it comes out clean, they’re done. If not, continue baking and re-testing at 10 minute intervals (the bread that I baked in the 9×9 pan took about 55 minutes and the loaf took about 65 – be patient!).

While the bread is baking, prepare the optional bourbon cream. In a stand or hand mixer, mix the cream on high until it begins to form very soft peaks. Add the bourbon, vanilla, and about 2 teaspoons of sugar. Continue to mix until the cream is as stiff as you like – for this I think that medium-soft peaks are nice, but it’s up to you. Just watch the cream and stop when it’s the way you like it. Taste for sugar – you might want to add a bit more if you like sweeter whipped cream.

Remove the bread from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the bread to a cooling rack (I do this by inverting the pan onto a cutting board so it’s upside down, and then re-inverting onto the rack so it’s right-side up again) and cool for at least another 15 minutes. Slice and serve with a hearty dollop of whipped cream.


2 thoughts on “olive oil pumpkin bread with bourbon cream

  1. Made this last night — DELICIOUS!! The whipped cream was a little too boozy for me (crazy, I know), but that bread is freaking fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

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