The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Pumpkin Bread

The brilliant thing about pumpkin bread, and other quick breads like this, is that they're so much easier to make than yeast breads. Taste Of Home points out that the fact pumpkin bread requires no kneading is a big part of that. Plus, the bread is really moist, soft, and full of delicious pumpkin spice! However, for as easy as pumpkin bread is, there are still mistakes that can happen. The most common one of all? Overmixing.

The reason for this is the gluten in the flour. Food52 shares that when flour is combined with liquid ingredients, gluten begins to "activate." A strong network of gluten is important for a yeast bread, to give it structure and rise. However, in a quick bread like pumpkin bread, where the desired texture is soft and almost cake-like, too much gluten makes the texture tough.

How do you know when your pumpkin bread has been overmixed? Aside from that tough texture, The Baking ChocolaTess says that another sign is when you slice into your loaf and see tunnels through the bread. This is caused by air trapped in the batter by the excess gluten.

How to avoid overmixing pumpkin bread batter

Food52 says that one reason that people tend to overmix pumpkin bread batter is that recipes can leave instructions about mixing unclear. A recipe may state that overmixing should be avoided, but doesn't say how much mixing should happen. Some bakers who are less familiar with this instruction may even overcompensate by leaving pumpkin bread batters undermixed. So to avoid overmixing your next loaf, let's get this straight!

Baker Bettie uses the "muffin method" (mixing dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, and then bringing them together) for muffins and quick breads. When it's time to mix the batter together, she advises to stir until the ingredients are "just combined." There will likely be lumps showing in the batter, but these will bake out in the oven.

This is clarified even more by Baking Bites, who says to mix the pumpkin bread batter until, "no streaks of flour remain." But again, lumps are okay. Baking Bites also suggests that if you're adding mix-ins to your bread (like nuts or chocolate chips), add these just before those streaks of flour vanish, so that you don't overmix the batter at the very end.

Now that you have clarity on what recipes mean when overmixing is mentioned, your next loaf of pumpkin bread is destined to turn out perfectly moist and soft.