This recipe is a must-have for any Thanksgiving dessert table.  My mother used to make this cake when I was a child. This recipe is actually her mother’s (Bubby of Apple Crisp fame) recipe, but she doesn’t make it anymore.  I have enjoyed this recipe all of my life but it wasn’t until I went vegan that it occurred to me that this was an already-vegan recipe.

My mother makes the cake in a round tube pan and covers it with a sweet frosting.  To this day, that  is seriously still my favorite way to have this cake.  However, Michael was not a fan of the icing on it, and we really didn’t need the extra fat and sugar.  In fact, the first time I made this for Michael, he said that his Aunt Carol made almost the exact same cake, but without the icing and it was a staple of his family Thanksgivings.  Another change we made was to start making this cake more like a bread by dividing the batter into two bread pans.

While my mom only ever made this with pumpkin, we came up with a great variation.  We replaced the pumpkin with mashed banana and it was amazing! I shared this version of the recipe with Vegan drag queen extraordinaire Honey LaBronx, who made them as banana chocolate chip cupcakes. So whether you want a this delectable chocolate-chip pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving or a moist chocolate chip banana bread, this recipe is THE BOMB!

*Tip:  To reduce the amount of fat in this recipe, swap half of the oil for an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce.  A full replacement really isn’t as good, as it changes the texture of the cake, making it rubbery.

*Tip:  If you want to serve this with your main Thanksgiving meal, rather than as a dessert, leave out the chocolate chips.



Prep Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 40 minutes for 2 loaves or 1 hour 10 minutes for a tube pan



3 cups all purpose flour
½  tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup  vegetable oil  (or ½ cup oil and ½ cup unsweetened applesauce)
15 oz can pumpkin (NB: do not use pumpkin pie filling as that is spiced. You want plain canned pumpkin.)*
1 cup water
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional – Michael hates nuts in baked goods, so we leave them out)

*to make as Banana Bread, use 2 cups of mashed ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)


1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease 2 9×5 bread pans, or 1 tube/bundt pan and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and set aside

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oil cinnamon and pumpkin.  Mix with hand mixer or stand mixer on medium speed until evenly blended, about one minute.

4. Alternately add the dry mixture and the water to the wet mixture, a little at a time on lower speed. Add a bit of the dry, then a bit of water, then dry, then water, etc… until all of the dry and the full cup of water are mixed in. Gradually increase the speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined,  about 2 minutes.

5. Add the chocolate chips, and nuts if using, and mix at medium for another minute.

6. Divide the mixture evenly into 2 greased bread pans, or pour into one tube/bundt pan

7. Bake at 350° F for 40 minutes for loafs, or 1 hour 10 minutes for a tube pan, or until a toothpick comes out dry from the center.

8. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack in the pan. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before serving.

Be sure to let it cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before removing and plating it!

Be sure to let it cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before removing and plating it!

Sweet Brown Butter Frosting

Make the icing while the cake is baking.  Wait to frost the cake until it is completely cooled.  (Or, you could just grab a spoon and eat this from the bowl!)


3 TBL vegan butter
3 TBL unsweetened, nondairy milk (I prefer soy milk)
3 TBL light brown sugar
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


1.  In a small saucepan, combine the butter, milk and brown sugar.  Simmer on low until the butter and sugar are completely melted and you have an even consistency.  You can also do this in the microwave in a large pyrex mixing cup or microwave-safe bowl.  Just be sure to stop the microwave periodically and stir the mixture, making sure to get rid of all lumps until you get that nice, even consistency.

2. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl, or into your stand mixer either by hand or using the wisk attachment, start fluffing it up.  Add the vanilla and continue to wisk.

3.  Add the confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup at a time, wisking thoroughly after each addition.

4.  Wisk until there are no lumps and it is creamy and smooth.

5.  Pour mixture over the cooled bread.  Allow it to set before serving.