Pumpkin Banana Bread

I try to avoid buying produce at Trader Joe’s because I’ve noticed it goes bad really quickly. And when you’re cooking for one person, you really need produce to last more than a couple days.

One notable exception: bananas. Yes, they also go bad pretty quickly. But an overripe banana isn’t waste: it’s a baking opportunity. So now I buy TJ’s bananas planning to bake with whatever goes super brown.

img_5972.jpgThis time, it was Pumpkin Banana Bread. This bread is incredibly flavorful with hints of both banana and pumpkin pie spice. It’s also super moist, because pumpkin and banana are both texture boosters. You add a nice crumble on top, and get a layered bread that’s the ultimate breakfast booster. Or afternoon booster. Or whenever else you like to eat your treats….no judgement here.

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Original recipe: Cookies and Cups. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 1 9×5 loaf

Total Time: ~2 hours. A lot of that is baking time vs. prep!

Cook Time: ~70 minutes



  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I make my own with this recipe)
  • 2 cups flour

Crumble topping 

  • 1/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (can sub in light if it’s all you’ve got)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Make your bread 

  1. Preheat your oven to 300F
  2. In a large bowl, mix your sugar and oil
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla, then mix until it’s all smooth
  4. Add your mashed banana, pumpkin, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice. Stir until it’s combined. I used a wooden spoon for this step
  5. Fold in your flour. Mix so you can’t see any traces of flour, then stop—you don’t want to overmix!
  6. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray, then line it with parchment. I tend to leave extra parchment hanging over the sides so it’s easier to remove the bread from the pan. It still might be sort of hard, but this makes it easier!
  7. Pour batter into the pan

Make your crumble and bake the bread 

  1. Grab a medium bowl, and add your butter, brown sugar, flour and pumpkin pie spice
  2. Use a fork or your hands to mix the ingredients together. You want to mix until a coarse crumb forms. I found it much easier with my hands!
  3. Sprinkle your topping over the loaf batter
  4. Bake for 65-85 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Don’t assume the bread is done just because the topping starts to brown—it might still be undercooked in the center. If you need to bake the bread longer and you’re worried about burning the top, use a foil “tent” to cover the top.
  5. Put the pan on a cooling rack, and leave it there for 20 minutes. Then, remove the bread from the pan, and put it on a wire rack to finish cooling

This bread kept well. I think it tasted even better on day 2, and still tasted great on day 3!



Caramel Apple Butter Snickerdoodles

I first made apple butter snickerdoodles in the fall of 2014. I liked them so much, I made them again a couple weeks later for a fall-themed potluck. And then…they fell victim to my tendency to try new recipes. I thought about them every fall, but always ended up making something new instead.


This year, I decided it was time to change that. But I also had a new idea: what if I mixed caramel bits into the batter? Caramel apple is such a classic flavor, after all. I’d never mixed caramel and apple butter together before, but I had a feeling it’d be great.

It turns out caramel bits were a really good idea. They add another layer of flavor to an already great cookie, taking it up just one more notch. The base of this apple butter snickerdoodle is pure delight. It’s a cakey cookie, with a subtle apple flavor. You mix apple butter right into the dough, then mix in the caramel bits, and roll the cookies in a cinnamon sugar mix before you bake them. That adds up to a delicious pillows of apple butter goodness, with a hint of cinnamon and a bit of chewy caramel.

Make sure to allow time to chill this dough so it doesn’t spread during baking. These cookies stay fresh for a few days in an airtight container, and freeze nicely too.

Caramel Apple Butter Snickerdoodles

Original recipe: Crazy for Crust. I modified it and rewrote things a bit. 

Yield: 36 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~4.5 hours (including chill time)

Cook Time: 14 minutes


For your dough 

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple butter (any brand will do!)

For your cinnamon sugar

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


Make your dough 

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl
  2. Using your mixer, cream butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until fluffy
  3. Mix in your eggs, vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and the apple butter. Beat until it’s just mixed
  4. Add in your flour mixture, and mix the whole thing until it’s blended together
  5. Throw your dough in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours. This keeps your cookies from spreading, so you don’t want to skip this step!

Bake your cookies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line cookie sheets
  2. Mix 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl so it’s fully combined
  3. Scoop a ball of dough, roll it in the cinnamon sugar and place it on your baking sheet. Repeat until you’re out of dough!
  4. Bake your cookies 12-14 minutes. Mine were perfect at 14 minutes, but make a call depending on how you like your cookies
  5. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely
  6. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temp, or freeze for later



10 Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

Growing up in southern California, I was a bit disconnected from this whole “pumpkin season” thing. Fall certainly brought pumpkin carving, and a trip to the local “pumpkin patch.” But…our pumpkin patch was just a straw-covered section of a mall parking lot. It wasn’t exactly the experience you get at an actual pumpkin farm.

My pumpkin patch experience got a serious upgrade in college. I started going to the Fall Harvest at the Kirkwood Farmer’s Market. Kirkwood is a small-ish suburb that’s part of St. Louis County. It was only a 20-minute drive from my college dorm, but felt like worlds away. It was always a nice reprieve from college life….small town vibes, fresh food, friendly vendors. I often invited friends, but sometimes I’d just go alone and unwind.

The market is great year-round, but fall is especially fun. I’d walk around sampling all the ciders and pumpkin treats and apple pies…and I got totally hooked on fall flavors. So thanks, Kirkwood, for helping me discover my love of all things fall. This list of pumpkin recipes is dedicated to you.

Here are the pumpkin recipes I’m most excited to try this year, and some old favorites:



Nutella Bread from A Treats Affair

 Pull Apart Nutella Filled Pumpkin Bread: Just reading this recipe name makes me hungry. I love surprise pockets of Nutella, so there’s no doubt I’d devour this bread.


Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake: This recipe is especially appropriate given my ode to St. Louis. Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis gem. I’ve made it with Biscoff…now it’s pumpkin’s turn!


Snickerdoodles from Half Baked Harvest

Pumpkin Gingerbread Coffee Cake: I’ve made pumpkin gingerbread before, and the flavor combo turned out great. This kicks it up a notch with the streusel topping.

Pumpkin Chai Snickerdoodles: I had planned to make this recipe last year, but never got around to it. Hope to make it happen this year!

Soft Batched Frosted Pumpkin Cookies: These are pretty simple compared to some of my other picks, but sound incredibly satisfying. Cakey pumpkin cookies are my favorite, and I bet they’re awesome frosted.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice: Did you know it’s super easy to make your own pumpkin pie spice? I make a batch every year  instead of buying it. I like controlling the spice levels, and this is my go-to!

Pumpkin recipes already on this blog:  

Craving more fall flavors? Check out last year’s pumpkin roundup, or my fall recipes Pinterest board.

Web-Hopping vol. 26

It’s been a while since I did a web-hopping post! That doesn’t mean my actual web-hopping stopped, though. I add dozens of recipes to my “must bake” list every week. Right now, I’m all about fall flavors. From pumpkin to zucchini—I’ll take them all.

Apples are particularly top of mind for me this week, because friends are starting to post their apple picking pictures. I love apple picking, and used to go every year when I lived in the midwest. It’s a tad harder when you live in San Francisco and don’t own a car…but I’m sure I can make it happen!

In the meantime, I plan on scooping up tons of apples from my local markets. Here are the six apple recipes I’m most excited to try this year, and few old favorites.


Pretzels from Baked by Rachel

Apple and cheddar soft pretzels: I’ll be honest: I get lazy about making yeasted recipes. But these have been on my list for years (literally) and maybe this will be the year I finally make them happen!

Caramel apple shortbread bars: I mean, what’s not to like? A buttery cookie-like base, topped by the classic combo of caramel and apple.

Apple cinnamon zucchini muffins: Zucchini makes for moist, flavorful baked goods so it’s the perfect solve for muffins—which are often too dry for my taste. And in this recipe, chunks of apple take things to an even better place.



Snickerdoodles from Bob’s Red Mill

Apple pie-stuffed snickerdoodles: I mean: just look at that picture. You cook up apples like you’re gonna throw them in a pie…but instead, you throw them in the middle of snickerdoodles. And you all know how much I love a good stuffed cookie!

Apple shortcake with honey, cinnamon and lavender: Naturally, I’m intrigued by the lavender in here. I can’t quite imagine how it will taste…which makes the recipe super compelling! (Warning: this recipe is in Hebrew. If I ever make it, I’ll report back on whether translating the page works out!!!)

Ginger apple molasses cake: I’m a sucker for anything ginger or molasses, so clearly this is a must-make. I also love that it has mascarpone frosting!

And just in case you’re craving more: here’s a handy roundup of apple recipes I’ve shared with you in the past.

Recipe Round-Up: Pumpkin

Pumpkin is one of my favorite things to bake with. I didn’t even know I liked pumpkin until college, when I started trying all the pumpkin baked goods on menus around town. From pumpkin gooey butter cake to pumpkin pancakes… I was hooked. I fell madly in love with a Pumpkin Pie Concrete at the local frozen custard stand too. Imagine a slice of pie blended INTO smooth vanilla frozen custard. Oh how I miss easy access to that great treat!

I stumbled into a Google rabbit hole yesterday and discovered a lot of canned pumpkin is actually not quite what we imagine. Apparently, some brands use a form of squash that is better for canning and baking, but not exactly the standard “pumpkin” we think of. It appears to be a bit contentious whether these squashes should be classified as “pumpkins” or not.

Squash, pumpkin, whatever the right word: I’m digging it. There’s just something so delicious about the texture pumpkin adds to baked goods, and the hint of flavor. Pumpkin itself is actually not that strong of a flavor in baked goods on its own, so spices usually help elevate the flavor profile to the type of taste experience you expect to have. Below are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes I’ve made in the past… and I already have a ton of recipes lined up for this year!

Oh, and if you’re curious about baking with other kinds of squash: I highly recommend it! I loved these Butternut Squash Cupcakes when I tried them, and have been itching to try this Squash and Cheddar Bread for a realllly long time.

My favorite pumpkin recipes (so far!)

20151031_205653Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies: This is one of my top recipes on Sugarsmith. It’s basically a simple blondie recipe… but with the Trader Joe’s special edition Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter blended into the batter.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars: One of my perennial fall favorites–I break my “don’t repeat” rule for this one. The perfect blend of spices really makes the pumpkin shine.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding: Having people over for a fall-ish brunch? This bread pudding is super simple and really delightful. You can make your own pumpkin spice mix or buy it at the store to save a step.


Mini Pumpkin Oreo Pies from Just Jenn. This is her picture, because I made these before I even had a baking blog (!!!!)

Mini Pumpkin Oreo Pies: I made this for Thanksgiving a couple years ago and it was a hit! Muffin tins are lined with an Oreo crust, then you pour a pumpkin filling on top. It’s a great blend of chocolate and pumpkin!

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing: The brown butter icing makes these pretty rich, but it’s a great complement to the soft pumpkin cookies below.

Pumpkin Cornbread: If you’re looking for something more savory, this pumpkin cornbread will hit the spot. It’s a really nice accompaniment to stews or you could even eat it for breakfast!

Have pumpkin recipes you think I should add to my baking to-do list? Let me know below!

Web-Hopping vol. 24

It’s a gloomy weekend here in San Francisco. That’s quite alright by me, because I have nowhere to go, and nothing to do! My last couple months were pretty jam-packed, so I decided to lay low this weekend. My plans for the next couple days? Reading, writing, baking, repeat. In other words: it’s gonna be awesome.

Don’t worry, though. I’m not missing out on Halloween entirely. We had a super fun Halloween party yesterday at work and wore costumes all day. My team dressed up as characters from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in a tribute to Gene Wilder. It was loads of fun… but now I have the Oompa Loompa song stuck in my head!

img_2148After work, the whole company headed to a costume contest and Halloween bash. There were some creative nibbles, from Cookie Monster cupcakes to “mummy in a blanket” hot dogs and monster Rice Krispie treats. I’ve been eyeing those monsters on Pinterest for a while, so it was fun to see them come to life!

Now, on to the links! Here are a few favorite food-ish things from the past week:


From the Butter Baking site

A new cake crush: How beautiful are these cakes? I stumbled on Butter Baking’s site the other day and fell in love with Natasha’s style. Natasha lives in Australia… any Australian readers want to take one for the team, and order a custom cake?

Cream cheese Funfetti bars: The NYT did an awesome piece on Funfetti a couple days ago so I have sprinkles on my mind. Fun fact: Pinterest users ages 25-34 have saved 260% more Funfetti ideas this year! That’s a lotttttta Funfetti.

Apple monkey bread muffins: These easy muffins look like the perfect morning treat. I love that they use apple butter–it’s one of my favorite fall flavors! And since this recipe uses biscuit dough, you don’t even have to worry about yeast.

img_2125Vampire donuts: These vampire donuts totally made my Wednesday morning. Sitting near the marketing team has its perks! They had some leftover supplies, so we all got to make our own spooky treats.

Cherry lime gooey butter bars: I’m a huge fan of gooey butter cake, a St. Louis classic that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Bakers Royale added an awesome fruity twist with this cherry-lime combo.

For many, many more recipe ideas, take a peek at my Pinterest boards.

Web-hopping vol. 24

It’s been a while since I wrote a Web-hopping post, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped adding to my recipe lists! I’m always scheming about baking experiments and I save new recipes pretty much daily. So many recipes, never enough time!

To reintroduce Web-hopping, let’s talk about my favorite baking season: fall. The apples! The pumpkins! The squash! It’s enough to get this baker giddy. In fact, I’ve already started amassing tons of recipes on a dedicated Pinterest board.

As a kid growing up in southern California, “fall” was more of a concept than a reality. It wasn’t until I moved to the Midwest that I truly understood the crisp feel of a fall day, the comfort of warm cider, the seasonal menus. Now that I’m back in California, fall is the season I miss most. Any time we have a crisp San Francisco morning, I flash back to my years in the Midwest and wish I could head down to the farmer’s market for some fresh pumpkin butter, hot cider and apples galore.

Even if I can’t have fall weather, I can certainly have fall flavors. Here are some of the frontrunners for my fall baking season:


Apple Cinnamon Streusel Pull-Apart Bread from Girl Versus Dough

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Pull-Apart Bread: I love cinnamon streusel and I love soft, pillowy breads – so this recipe looks like a winner! I think I’ll bring this to work on a Monday, to make Monday morning just a little sweeter.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Salted Caramel Icing: These make me nostalgic for the brunch potlucks I used to host when I lived in Chicago. Sadly I don’t have the space to host friends for brunch anymore, but maybe I can convince a friend to host and bring all the goodies! I love this combo of pumpkin and caramel, and think the salted icing will add a special touch.

Roasted Butternut Squash Cornbread: Butternut squash adds a really unique flavor to baked goods. I’ve made butternut squash cupcakes in the past that were a huge hit. This year I want to incorporate squash into more types of treats, and this cornbread looks like a good place to start.

Apple Blondies: I’m digging the idea of apple chunks in a blondie. These look delightful, and they’re on my radar for fall party treats.


Pumpkin Brookies from Crazy for Crust

Pumpkin Brookies: I adore a good combo dessert, and I’m really excited about this one! The bottom layer is a pumpkin blondie and the top layer is a brownie. TBD when I make these, but they’re definitely popping up in my kitchen at some point this fall!

Baked Apple Cake with Cinnamon Frosting: This recipe is written in German – but Google Translate can come to our rescue! I’ve made some apple cakes in the past and love how chunks of apple nestle into soft cake layers. This recipe looks especially delicious thanks to its cinnamon frosting.

Bonus round! Here are a few of my favorite fall-tinged recipes from previous years: