Autumn brings with it the beloved tradition of indulging in pumpkin products from Trader Joe’s. When the season rolls around, fans of gluten-free goods often look for products that don’t compromise on taste or texture. Trader Joe’s, with its cult following and reputation for seasonal delights, introduced their Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Baking Mix. While I appreciate the supermarket chain’s efforts in catering to those with dietary restrictions, I found this particular product to be a miss in the otherwise delightful lineup for a gluten-free diet with whole grains.
Trader Joe’s has long been known for its wide selection of gluten-free bread and other gluten-free products. Many have I reviewed here and most are pretty good. What we have here is basically a quick bread that doesn’t need yeast to rise and is very easy to make. I will give them that at least.
Taste and Flavor Profile:
My primary concern with the mix is its overwhelming sweetness. You can see it right on the label on the side of the box. 30% sugar! The first ingredient on the list is SUGAR! Many gluten-free products compensate for texture with extra sugar, but this mix goes overboard.
Each bite feels like a sugar rush, overshadowing any potential subtleties of the pumpkin flavor. For those who prefer a more balanced sweetness in their baked goods, this mix will likely come as a disappointment.
Further exacerbating the issue is the dominating flavor of ginger and pumpkin pie spice. A hint of these spices could have added a pleasant warmth to the product. Still, Trader Joe’s formulation feels as though someone accidentally tripled the spice quotient. Instead of the comforting flavor profile we associate with pumpkin pie filling or muffins, each mouthful felt like biting directly into a spice jar.
Pumpkin, in its subtle, earthy glory, should be the star of the show. Instead, it takes a backseat, masked by the cacophony of spices and sugar. The essence of pumpkin bread or muffin should evoke memories of crisp autumn mornings and leaves crunching underfoot, but this mix is more reminiscent of a pumpkin spice latte gone wrong.
Texture and Consistency:
More on the negative side, the texture was pretty bad. I tried to cut into the loaf after it cooled off and it just crumbled into pieces as you can see in my picture below. It was a crumbly mess. When I ate it, it was cake-like but that is to be expected.
Packaging and Preparation:
The packaging, true to Trader Joe’s style, is eye-catching and has clear instructions, making it user-friendly for even novice bakers. The addition of eggs, oil, and water is standard for many baking mixes, making the preparation straightforward.
Before diving into the review, here are the baking instructions for those who might still be willing to give it a try:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients baking mix with 2 large room temperature eggs, half a cup of oil, and a cup of water. Mix until the batter is smooth.
- Pour the wet ingredients into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan or into muffin tins.
- The bake time is 55-60 minutes for bread or 25-30 minutes for muffins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
Taste and Flavor Profile:
My primary concern with this mix was going to be the sweetness levels and I was spot on. This stuff is like eating hard candy. 30% sugar for crying out loud! But that wasn’t the only problem. This mix tasted like gingerbread cookies. Ginger and pumpkin pie spice blend. I know there is pumpkin in there but there is no way you could taste it through the fog of spices.
In the vast sea of pumpkin-flavored products that flood the market every fall, a standout product needs to strike the right balance between flavor, sweetness, and texture. There isn’t much to like about this gluten free muffin mix, it unfortunately misses the mark in its flavor profile. The overpowering sweetness and aggressive spicing diminish what could have been a delightful autumn treat. The only upside is that contains real pumpkin. Maybe the texture problems would go away if I had tried pumpkin muffin.
For those sensitive to strong spice blends or looking for a mellow, pumpkin-forward taste, I’d advise giving this mix a pass. There are numerous other pumpkin mixes in the market that strike a better balance. However, if you have a sweet tooth and relish a bold spice game, this might just be up your alley. But for those like me who were seeking a nostalgic bite of autumn, the search continues.
I am going to rate this pumpkin bread recipe a 2 out of 10 Bells. I think it’s a good idea to skip this one!
Next time I will buy a different box of Trader Joe’s muffin mix and look forward to the next seasonal item.
SUGAR, WHOLE GRAIN SORGHUM FLOUR, WHOLE GRAIN MILLET FLOUR, DRIED PUMPKIN FLAKES, BROWN RICE FLOUR (RICE FLOUR, STABILIZED RICE BRAN WITH GERM), RICE FLOUR, SPICES, LESS THAN 2% OF: BAKING SODA, CORN FLOUR, SALT, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, XANTHAN GUM.
- MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF MILK, SOY.