Karen Drew: How my mom’s famous pumpkin bread recipe brings back warm memories

Mom's pumpkin bread. (WDIV)

It’s a simple recipe -- but I love it -- and it seems to be a hit with friends and family. I’m talking about my mom’s pumpkin bread recipe.

It’s Thanksgiving week, so that means I bake a few loaves for our family and some for friends and co-workers. What they don’t realize is the baking for me is a gift. The smell of the pumpkin bread that flows through my kitchen gives me warmth, love, and comfort.

I lost my mom six years ago this month, and as those who have lost a parent know, a simple smell or the sight of something can bring back a rush of memories. For me -- its mom’s Pumpkin Bread.

I remember I started baking when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, it was special time with my mom. I would flour the pans, crack the eggs, and she let me use the mixer, all while watching me and giving me directions as she smoked her Kent Cigarettes in our very small kitchen.

While we waited for the bread to bake, we would sit at our Formica table with some cold Diet Cokes and talk. She would share her holiday memories as child and I would sit there wide-eyed listening to every word. Those sure were special nights.

So, last night I tried to do the same thing with my girls (minus the Kent Cigarettes and the Formica table). It started out great-- the Christmas music was blasting, everyone was measuring stuff , prepping the pans, it was really sweet.

There was a brief fight about WHO would use the mixer, and there were some tears, and a door slam, but once I was able to calm things down we got back to the kitchen and started baking.

Madison was great at measuring, Morgan was fantastic with the mixer, and I enjoyed every moment. I talked about my mom and shared memories about my childhood, as the pumpkin bread baked and the smells filled the kitchen -- I was so happy. I felt like she was there for a moment, it felt wonderful.

I packed up the bread this morning, dropped it at some friends homes and brought in some for my coworkers -- little do they know how baking this bread makes ME so, so happy.

Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, -- oh and here is my mom’s recipe. Enjoy!


  • Preheat oven 350 degrees
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 2 cups of pumpkin
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • grease and flour plans
  • bake an hour

Related blog: Karen Drew: I said I was never going to become one of ‘those moms,’ but look at me now

About the Author:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.