Hey, has this summer gone by fast, or what?

Kids are already heading back to school in many parts of the country, and Labor Day is less than 2 weeks away.

Which means it's time to think about – gulp! – fall baking.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it'll work for any of our photos.

And fall flavors. Like apple. And cranberry.

And pumpkin – star not only of pie, but of some of our favorite muffins and breads.

Now, there are those who immediately think "yeast" when they hear the word "bread."

And then there are those whose thoughts turn to "banana."

Yeah, banana. As in banana bread, THE most searched-for bread recipe on the Web.

That's right. As it turns out, when the world is looking for a bread recipe online, they want banana – not baguette.

So I'm thinking pumpkin bread, and then I'm thinking banana bread, and the cerebral neurons start firing – as still occasionally happens, even in us older folks.

Light dawns on Marblehead: Pumpkin-Banana Bread!

Why not? Both breads are tasty on their own. Their textures are nearly identical; and their flavors feel complementary, the mildness of pumpkin playing nicely with assertive banana.

Plus, both are easily converted to a 100% whole grain version – score!

Introducing Easy Whole Grain Pumpkin-Banana Bread, this fall's newest bake sale, potluck, and hostess gift favorite.

Let's start by preheating the oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the following:

8 tablespoons (113g) butter, softened
2/3 cup (142g) brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons (64g) honey
2 large eggs
1 cup (227g) puréed pumpkin
1 cup (227g) mashed banana, the riper the better
2 tablespoons (28g) orange juice or water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add the following, stirring to combine:

1 1/2 cups (170g) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 ground cinnamon

Stir in 1/2 cup diced, toasted pecans, if desired. Don't like nuts? Nuts don't like you? Leave 'em out.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired. Crunchy candied pumpkin seeds. 

Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Bake the bread for 55 to 70 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven. A cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf will come  out clean; and that same tester stuck about 1/2" into the top of the loaf won't encounter any totally unbaked batter.

Do you have an instant-read thermometer? The bread's temperature will be around 195°F about 3/4" under the top crust.

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack.

DO NOT cut this bread while it's warm! It'll crumble and seem gummy. When it's completely cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and store it overnight before serving.

Is this 24-hour rest period really necessary? My, my, aren't we impatient!

Since you're the baker, I give you permission to slice yourself a small sample ahead of time – for tasting purposes only.

However, the bread's texture and flavor really do benefit from an overnight rest.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Easy Whole Grain Pumpkin-Banana Bread.

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The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was an award-winning Maine journalist (favorite topics: sports and food) before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. Hired to write the newly launched Baker’s Catalogue, PJ became the small but growing company’s sixth employee.&nbsp...
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