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I call this quick bread harvest spice bread because it combines some of the best flavors of the fall season including apple, pumpkin, and cinnamon spice. This loaf is infinitely adaptable, freezes well, and can be made into muffins, too!

sliced harvest spice bread

I call this harvest spice bread because “apple pumpkin carrot cinnamon brown sugar spice bread” was a tad too long. 😉

What’s harvest spice bread, you ask? Imagine everything you love about fall. Warm spices, pumpkin, fresh apples, cozy sweaters… well, what if we took all of those incredible components of this beautiful autumn season and packed them into a simple bread?

Um, except for the sweater. But go ahead and wear your warmest cable knit while eating a slice!

harvest spice bread on a cooling rack

Why You’ll Love Harvest Spice Bread

  • No mixer required
  • Infinitely adaptable—more on that next!
  • Incredibly moist
  • Super flavorful and soft
  • Brown sugared
  • Quick & easy—pour into a loaf pan and bake
  • You can use homemade pumpkin pie spice here. (See recipe Note.)

Part apple cinnamon bread, pumpkin bread, spice cake, and carrot cake, this harvest spice bread is loaded with flavor. When you decide to bake a loaf, do yourself a favor and double the recipe. You’ll want two loaves of this orange beauty and even then, it’s hard to share.

3 slices of harvest spice quick bread on a plate

Let’s Talk Add-Ins

I use shredded apple, shredded carrot, pumpkin puree, and walnuts in this quick bread. These add-ins are completely customizable and you can make substitutions based on what you have or what you’re craving.

  1. Apples: Not sure why that apple in the corner above looks weirdly shiny and plastic—that was a pink lady apple, one of my favorite varieties! You can use your favorite such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji. Instead of apple, you can swap in zucchini or more shredded carrot.
  2. Pumpkin: Just like when we make pumpkin muffins, I prefer canned pumpkin puree in this bread (I like Libby’s brand), but you can use homemade pumpkin puree if you have it. Instead of pumpkin puree, try unsweetened applesauce or even mashed banana.
  3. Carrot: Slightly sweet and mega moist shredded carrot pairs wonderfully with these flavors. In fact, this tastes like a quick bread version of carrot cake. Instead of carrots, however, you can use more shredded apple or even shredded zucchini.
  4. Walnuts: Feel free to substitute pecans, raisins, or dried cranberries.
2 images of ingredients for harvest spice bread

Baking Tip: It’s important that the apple and carrot are shredded, not chopped. Shredding each with a box grater creates a lot of juicy moisture which is carried over into the quick bread. Just like in these healthy apple muffins, when shredded, they act like a wet ingredient in the batter. This makes a difference in the final taste and texture of the loaf!

2 images of harvest spice bread batter in a bowl and baked loaf in a pan

Behind the Harvest Spice Bread Recipe

When testing this recipe, I started with my pumpkin bread as the base. Use the same ingredients here including all-purpose flour as the base, baking soda as the leavener, seasonal spices, a mix of granulated and brown sugars, and oil to keep the bread extra moist. I decreased the amount of sugar since apple and carrot sweeten the bread and I swapped milk for the orange juice. (Orange juice brightens the flavor of my pumpkin bread, it’s so good!) I also decreased the amount of liquid since the batter was already pretty wet.

Whisk the dry ingredients in 1 bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine the two, then pour into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. You can use this batter for harvest spice muffins, too! See recipe note.

harvest spice bread

How to Freeze Quick Bread

Freezing quick bread is like freezing cake. Here are all of my quick bread recipes if you’re looking for more inspiration! Favorites include Banana Bread, Pumpkin Bread, Orange Cranberry Bread, & Zucchini Bread.

  1. Step 1: Bake and completely cool quick bread.
  2. Step 2: Once the bread cools completely, wrap it in Press & Seal or plastic wrap. From one baker to another– Press & Seal is the best product for wrapping baked goods. I find regular plastic wrap too thin, clingy, and frustrating. It definitely works, but Press & Seal is easier to use and I’ve honestly found that it keeps my food fresher. (Not working with this brand, just really love it.)
  3. Step 3: Write the type of bread and use-by date on a large piece of aluminum foil. For best taste and texture, don’t freeze quick bread for longer than 3 months. You could stretch it to 4 or 5 months, but the sooner you serve it, the fresher it tastes.
  4. Step 4: Wrap the bread in the aluminum foil and place in the freezer. You could place the wrapped bread in a freezer container or freezer-friendly zipped top bag, but I often just freeze it after wrapping in aluminum foil.
  5. Step 5: Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer the frozen bread to the refrigerator one day before serving. Sometimes I forget and just let the bread thaw at room temperature for several hours, but it’s better to thaw at a slower rate in the refrigerator. Make sure you thaw bread while it’s still in the wrapping. Don’t unwrap before thawing.

Baker’s Tip: Two layers of wrap is key! The first layer keeps the bread fresh and the aluminum foil ensures no condensation will seep in. Double layer = maximum freshness and no freezer burn. Moisture is the enemy, so don’t be afraid to add another layer of Press & Seal or aluminum foil.

slices of spice bread on a plate
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3 slices of harvest spice quick bread on a plate

Harvest Spice Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Part apple bread, spice cake, pumpkin bread, and carrot cake, this harvest spice bread is loaded with flavor. This loaf is infinitely adaptable, freezes well, and can be made into muffins, too!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoonground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115g) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)*
  • 1 heaping cup (130g) peeled and shredded apple*
  • 3/4 cup (100g) peeled and shredded carrot*
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk
  • 1 cup (130g) chopped walnuts*

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. See notes for muffins.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger together in a large bowl until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin, shredded apple, shredded carrot, and milk together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently whisk until *just* combined. Fold in the walnuts. Batter will be semi-thick.
  3. Spread the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 – 65 minutes. (I like to loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent heavy browning on top.) Baking times vary so keep an eye on yours. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean with zero raw batter. Remove the bread from the oven.
  4. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before removing and slicing. Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for up to 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to about 10 days.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: See blog post above for detailed freezing & thawing instructions.
  2. Special Tools: Glass Mixing BowlsLoaf Pan | Vegetable Peeler | Box Grater
  3. Muffins: Grease a 12-count muffin pan or line with liners. Prepare batter in step 2. Spoon the batter evenly into each liner, filling each all the way to the top. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 20-22 minutes, give or take. Cool muffins for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Makes 16-18 muffins.
  4. Spices: Instead of nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, you can use 3/4 – 1 teaspoon of store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice. This is in addition to the 2 teaspoons of cinnamon—you will still add that.
  5. Pumpkin: I prefer canned pumpkin puree in this bread (I like Libby’s brand), but you can use homemade pumpkin puree. Instead of pumpkin puree, try unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana.
  6. Apples: Use your favorite apples such as Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji. Instead of apple, you can swap in shredded zucchini or more shredded carrot.
  7. Carrot: Don’t use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They’re on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 2 small/medium carrots to yield approximately 3/4 cup of moist carrot shreds. Instead of carrots, you can use more shredded apple or even shredded zucchini.
  8. Walnuts: Feel free to substitute chopped pecans, raisins, or dried cranberries.

Keywords: quick bread, pumpkin apple bread

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. This recipe is a keeper!! Made this from fresh harvest pumpkin, apple and carrots as the recipe calls for and I have to say this is an amazing bread. Topped with chopped walnuts….mmmm delicious. The cabin smells sooo good too, with all the aromatic spices. Thank you for your great recipe.

  2. Hi Sally,
    I’d like to substitute all or some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat and add in some ground flax, do you think that would that work and if so how much flax do you think would be ok?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Tiffany, we’d recommend starting by swapping only half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour and then adjusting for future batches as you’d like. The whole wheat flour will make a heavier bread. You can also try adding flax the same way — start small with just a few tablespoons or so, then feel free to adjust from there. Let us know what you try!

    2. Hi Tiffany, I’ve made these a bunch of times using King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour (100%) and they’ve turned out fine! Maybe slightly denser than using white flour, but not noticeable to me. White Whole Wheat has an intermediate amount of protein in it (less than regular whole wheat, but more than white flour), so that may help. And I make as muffins — bake at 425 for 5-6 minutes, then another 13-ish at 350. If you are looking for another health hack, I have completely skipped using the granulated white sugar & they still taste great. Plan to try reducing the brown sugar by 25%, too, next time. Great idea with flax btw. Happy baking!

  3. If I wanted to make this a gluten free version, would I just swap out the all purpose flour to gluten free plain flour to the same ratio? Or would I need to change it and/or add anything else?

    1. Hi Jade, we haven’t tested a gluten-free version of this bread, so we’re unsure of the results. Let us know if you do any experimenting!

    2. Jade, I made this GF measure for measure flour and it came out great. I usually use butter in my GF baking but used oil and this was perfect . It only took about 50 minutes to bake.

      1. Thanks so much for replying! I’m going to try this tonight with the same GF measure to measure flour. I really appreciate you putting your comment here!

  4. Love your recipes and couldn’t wait to try this one, especially after reading the great reviews. It smelled great and looked picture perfect, but the taste was just ok.

    1. Hi! Can you make this bread with bread & pastry flour instead of all purpose flour? Is so, what would the measurements be?
      Thanks!!

      1. Hi Dorothy! All purpose flour is really best for this quick bread. A bread and pastry flour may result in an undesirable chewy texture.

  5. This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it! If I try it with shredded zucchini, rather than carrot, would I need to squeeze the liquid from the zucchini? I don’t want it to ruin the texture of the bread. Do you know if using a sugar replacement (monk fruit with erythritol/allulose) for the white sugar would work? Thank you

    1. Hi Kristi! If using zucchini, no need to squeeze some moisture out before adding to the batter. On the question of sugar, we’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes. Thank you!

      1. Can this be made low carb by using almond and or coconut flour?

      2. Hi Gail, we don’t recommend it. Coconut flour and almond flour have very different baking properties than all purpose flour and aren’t necessarily always a 1:1 swap. It’s best to stick with all purpose flour here.

  6. This loaf is easy to make and very delicious. Sally’s comment that you have to check the bake time is worth paying attention to – I have to add about 5 minutes to the cook time.

  7. Made for the first time this morning and couldn’t be happier. I honestly couldn’t wait for the bread to cool, I was so excited. I used Greek yogurt instead of milk and cut the sugar in half (only used 1/2 cup brown sugar) and it is still delectable and satisfying. A definite addition to the recipe folder! Thank you!

    1. Thanks for telling about the yogurt because I didn’t see anything in the recipe that would activate the baking soda.

  8. Love the recipe. I replaced the oil with unsweetened applesauce. Delicious!

  9. I made these (muffins) with KA gluten-free flour. They turned out pretty good – I’d like to try these with regular flour to taste the difference. I baked according to the muffin baking directions; I tested with a toothpick, which came out clean – but it was deceptive, as some of the muffins didn’t bake all the way. So I added another 7 minutes. Some were still a little gooey. So just really watch for that if making muffins; I know different ovens/altitudes can really alter how long things might need to be baked.

  10. Made this per recipe using pumpkin puree & grated apples; subbed pumpkin pie spice for the nutmeg, cloves, & ginger. Very moist with excellent flavor. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

    1. Hi Wendy, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076

  11. Just loved this bread! I live at 5,500 ft and tried making it as written without adjusting for altitude — just a tad less sugar, minus 2 TBL total. Perfect results. Such a great fall bread with many compliments — even from a husband who normally wouldn’t touch this type of bread. Also, I so appreciate all of the tips, recommendations, substitutions ALWAYS provided with Sally’s recipes.

    1. Hi Jennifer, I’m really unsure. I don’t think shredded sweet potato would bake just like carrot does in this bread. Shredded apple or zucchini would be better substitutions here.

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