Buttermilk Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Muffins and the Melancholy of “Unfinished”

BEST buttermilk Pumpkin bread recipe{image via instagram. scroll down for THE GREATEST PUMPKIN BREAD RECIPE IN THE WORLD}

I started writing a blog post back in June, just before my birthday, just before the Summer Solstice, but I never finished it. To be more accurate, I barely even started it. The draft has been sitting in my queue of pending posts, has been hanging as a three-quarters (in)complete introductory paragraph to nothing with a sentence at the end that just stops at a single, solemn word:


Just like that. No words after it. No punctuation. Unfinished business that leaves one hanging in a whisper of sadness…melancholy.

One would think that after weeks of watching that pathetic attempt at a blog post slowly sink lower and lower down the screen, I would just delete it, but delete it I could not. It wasn’t that I literally couldn’t – that I wasn’t in front of a computer 20 of 24 hours a day, that I didn’t have access to the Internet, that I was too busy working on something else.

No, almost every day, the opportunity to delete that post arose. Almost every day, I would open the post, full of a strange, sad optimism that I would finally be able to express the emotions that were so intense that they had held my writing captive. Almost every day, I would find myself wrestling with thoughts, clawing at words, desperate to grasp something before an invisible deadline passed. Almost every day, I found myself exhausted after two, three, five hours of feeling everything again, but expressing nothing. Again. Almost every day, after getting to melancholy and letting out a sigh of surrender, I could have clicked “delete.”

I could have deleted the post.

But I didn’t.

Because…I couldn’t.

And now a muffin that reaches for symbolism, because really, a muffin could be nothing more than a sad cupcake that was never finished with frosting.

I don’t remember from where nor from whom this recipe comes. The recipe is in my own handwriting on a ruled index card, a clear indication that I must have gotten it some time during college when I was pre-med and took classes that required memorization via flash cards.

The recipe calls for buttermilk, which is, a la Tom Jones, not unusual, but the method of alternating additions to the batter is what makes this the best, last recipe for Pumpkin Bread you’ll ever use. Yes, the original recipe is for a loaf of Pumpkin Bread, but that wouldn’t work for the theme of this post, now would it?

Buttermilk Pumpkin Bread {recipe}

(a.k.a “The Last Pumpkin Bread Recipe You’ll Ever Need”)

Makes one loaf or a dozen unfinished “cupcakes.” Recipe can be doubled, or even tripled, but you’re going to need a pretty big mixing bowl for that.


1½ c. dark brown sugar
½ c. (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
2 large eggs
½ lb. (approximately 1 cup) pumpkin puree
1½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. allspice
½ tsp salt
1/3 c. buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour a loaf pan or line muffin tin with paper liners.

Cream 1½ c. dark brown sugar and ½ c. (1 stick) softened unsalted butter. Add 2 large eggs and ½ lb. pumpkin puree. Combine well.

In a separate bowl, sift together 1½ c. all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp baking powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. nutmeg, ½ tsp. allspice, and ½ tsp salt.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet pumpkin mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 1/3 c. buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour into loaf pan or divide into muffin tin.

Bake loaf pan for approximately 50 minutes or muffins for 25 minutes, checking with toothpick about 10 minutes before.

{post originally published October 2008}

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