A DASH of Baking: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin season isn’t over quite yet! Get your final pumpkin fix this season with this delicious whole wheat chocolate chip pumpkin bread. Makes two delicious loaves, perfect for sharing!


The Evolution of this Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

This is the story of a recipe that has been nearly 15 years in the making, and taught me a lot about what it meant to be a good baker. The first time I made this bread, it was my first fall in my first apartment and I barely had enough cooking supplies to finish the recipe. I was Googling ingredient substitutes right and left because I hadn’t thoroughly checked my pantry before deciding to start baking. I threw my concoction in the oven and after an hour and a half I had a half-baked loaf of mutant, but delicious, pumpkin bread. As a poor college student, I did what any poor college student would do and salvaged as much of my loaf as was safe to eat. Though my first attempt was not a triumphant success, the bread I had was so good I knew I was going to need to try this again.

The second time I made this, I had better equipped my kitchen, but the resulting batter still would not bake through in what I felt should be a reasonable time for a couple loaves. What parts did bake through were too dry and bland compared to my first round with all my ingredient swaps. It was frustrating that I finally prepared and followed the recipe and it still wasn’t coming together.


A couple years later I worked up the energy to try a third time, thinking I could adjust the recipe and get the timing down and improve the texture. I adjusted the ingredients, and put them in the oven hoping they would bake through. Again though, I ended up with a partially raw and unsatisfying bake. I’m not going to lie, it went straight in the trash with several choice curse words. I was so frustrated I may have thrown a small adult tantrum in the kitchen.

So here I was at the point where I think most people would just abandon ship, or recipe. A lot of folks encounter situations like this and just give up, because it is literally one of the most frustrating experiences to be laboring over something that you are looking forward to enjoying so much and then it doesn’t work. I admit, this was a very discouraging situation for me. So discouraging I didn’t make this again until last fall. I had, at this point however, developed some sort of vendetta against this recipe and was determined to win my bread battle.


In a new house and a new kitchen (and a new life), I was eventually inspired to try again. I had made notes overtime in my cookbooks on what I had done before in order to try to correct all my baking attempts and patiently waded my way through the recipe and revised strategy. Finally, my house was filled with the rich and warm scent of baked pumpkin and spices and my loaves were about ready to taste test. I nervously pulled the loaves from the oven and scrutinized their exterior, hoping I was going to be able to assess their excellence by their appearance alone. Seeing no wet batter residue on a clean knife inserted, I just had to wait until they cooled enough to cut into. Once cooled, I sliced off a piece and took my first bite to discover that my hard work had paid off (as you likely guessed). I stood in my kitchen and proudly looked at my loaves of pumpkin bread while polishing off my first slice.

Lessons in Baking

It’s not like I won the lottery or anything, but the success of this bake was a deeply satisfying end to a long and frustrating struggle. My notes and methodical approach had allowed me to finally find a way to make this recipe reliably. This recipe ended up slowly teaching me a lot of lessons around how to approach baking through my repeat attempts, which has helped me develop and perfect other recipes along the way. So though this bread was over a decade in the making, I’m thankful I for the baking lessons I received by fighting my way through this.

The moral of this baking story is that some recipes are worth the struggle. I hope you enjoy the results of this one.


How to Make Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Originally based on Alicia Silverstone’s Pumpkin Bread recipe in her book The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet.

Silverstone, Alicia, and Victoria Pearson. “Pumpkin Bread.” The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet, Rodale, Emmaus, PA, 2011, p. 202.


  • 2 – 28oz can of pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or nut milk
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, one handful set aside
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, one handful set aside


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9×5 inch loaf pans by spraying or oiling the bottom and sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the pumpkin puree, the brown sugar, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the pumpkin puree until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips and the pecans.
  6. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and sprinkle the tops of each with the remaining chocolate chips and pecans
  7. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, on the middle rack of the oven, rotating the loaves halfway through the baking time. The loaves are done when the only thing that sticks to a clean knife inserted in a loaf is melted chocolate. Allow the loaves to cool to a safe handling temperature before turning out on a rack to cool completely.

More Great Fall Recipes!

Looking for some other great fall baking ideas? Try one of these!

Oatmeal Cookies with Candied Ginger

Sticky, Salted Date Toffee Peanut Butter Bars

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