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!
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!
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Walnuts: Feel free to substitute pecans, raisins, or dried cranberries.
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!
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.
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.
- Step 1: Bake and completely cool quick bread.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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- 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground 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*
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. See notes for muffins.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Freezing Instructions: See blog post above for detailed freezing & thawing instructions.
- Special Tools: Glass Mixing Bowls | Loaf Pan | Vegetable Peeler | Box Grater
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Walnuts: Feel free to substitute chopped pecans, raisins, or dried cranberries.
Keywords: quick bread, pumpkin apple bread