Pumpkin Cornbread, a Frugal World War I-Era Recipe

Pumpkin Cornbread, a Frugal World War I-Era Recipe
pumpkin cornbread in a cast iron pan

I know, it’s not the season for Pumpkin Everything in the United States. But true pumpkin love knows no single season. Have you ever thought to add an ingredient like pumpkin to cornbread before? When I ran across this variation, I knew I had to try this recipe. As it turns out, I love this twist. It’s slightly sweeter than my typical cornbread recipe. However, it’s an interesting change and even if everyone likes pumpkin in all its many uses, it’s a nice way for you to painlessly smuggle more vegetables into your diet. No pumpkin fatigue!

This is a recipe from 1918. It was intentionally created without wheat in order to conserve more of the wheat crop for troops fighting in World War I. It’s a shame it’s been lost to time for so long, but no more.

You can serve pumpkin cornbread with any meal, but it’s especially good for cozy breakfasts and alongside just about any soup.

making pumpkin cornbread

Variations to canned pumpkin

Feel free to substitute any winter squash puree for the pumpkin. They work interchangeably just beautifully.

Incidentally, I’ve been using dehydrated pumpkin to make these. Last year I dehydrated my abundance into 1 cup quantities, then rolled them up in wax paper like fruit leather. I stored them in a half-gallon mason jar. To rehydrate it, I tore the fruit leather into bits into a saucepan of water, then simmered it down until it was thick and measured 2 cups.

So what do I prefer? This pumpkin cornbread or my gluten-free pumpkin muffins? Hmm… Both, actually!

Pumpkin Cornbread

a World War I era (gluten-free) recipe
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 8 slices


  • c. cornmeal
  • ½ c. barley or rice flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 3 t. baking powder
  • t. baking soda
  • 2 c. pumpkin puree
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 T. hot water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. milk (any kind)


  • Mix together cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • Beat the soda mixed with hot water into the pumpkin, then add the egg, sugar, and milk.
  • Add all to dry ingredients and beat together.
  • Place in greased pans and bake in a moderate oven (375°) until brown. Makes 2 round layer cake pans.


I’ve copied the original directions in for interest’s sake, but I’ve found it’s just as easy to combine the liquid ingredients then add in the dry ingredients. I also disregard the direction to dissolve the soda in hot water. 
I like baking mine in a cast iron skillet.


  1. Here in Australia, corn bread is something we don’t use really, however, I will be dehydrating some pumpkin and then I will blend it into pumpkin powder. This seems to be the new trend at the moment. One thing we do love here is pumpkin soup in the winter.
    Blessings Gail.

    1. I never noticed that cornbread isn’t common in Australia but if I think about it, corn is very traditional American–grits, mush, johnnycakes, scrapple, etc.
      It’s interesting that pumpkin is a savory ingredient in Australia but almost exclusively a sweet one in the US.

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