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Blink, and this is the end result.

Bake Shop Bakery Pumpkin Sliced Loaf Cake (Aldi)

Despite its redundant name, Bake Shop Bakery has some pretty memorable products. Chief among them is their banana bread, which is probably the best mass-produced bread I’ve ever had. For the fall season, they’ve returned with a new seasonal buy: pumpkin. I mean, it’s not surprising considering the pumpkin craze that sweeps the nation this time of year. The bar is set high, but how does the pumpkin compare? If it does at all?

Oh man, these slices are moist and soft. (On a side note, I know “moist” is one of the most-hated words in the English language, but what other options are there to describe food? Dripping? Wet? Damp? Exactly. Moist it is.) That was always a strong trait of their banana bread. Well, along with the completely addicting taste. The pumpkin has some big shoes to fill…is it up to the task?

This is another excellent offering. The bread has the same perfect texture as the banana, managing to be soft without being crumbly. It’s a tough balance to strike in a mass-produced product, but just the appearance is enough to get one’s mouth watering. Take away the clamshell, and it’s something you might find in a supermarket bakery. That might not be high praise overall, but for a pre-packaged product it is.

The flavor, though…man, it’s nearly every bit as addicting as the banana. I’m a fan of pumpkin, but not to the extent people like my wife are: Once the first leaf hits the ground, she’s getting pumpkin lattes. I can enjoy a pumpkin pie or two every season, but then it just kind of wears out its welcome. This, on the other hand, I could probably eat all year ‘round. It’s got that familiar pumpkin taste, but the crucial part is that it’s not super strong. It’s perfectly proportioned. It’s clearly there, and not dialed back so far that you only get a hint, but it’s nowhere near overpowering. I’d venture to say this is something that virtually all fans of pumpkin – whether casual or obsessive – can get behind.

One of the reasons is probably right there on the ingredient label: Much to my surprise, pumpkin is number two (right behind sugar). No wonder why there’s an abundance of realistic flavor. (I’m surprised they don’t put “Made with real pumpkin!” somewhere prominent on the label. Hopefully we’re beyond products loudly exclaiming they’re made of the ingredients they should be made of.) I also don’t see “natural flavors” in the list, but I ripped my label right in the middle of it, so I’m sure it’s there somewhere. If not, that’s all the more impressive.

At $3.49 per 8 slice package (why can’t it be 10?!) value is modest, when taken at face value. It’s about on par with other store brands for similar products. But considering just how good this is, it becomes that much better. I would get this again in a heartbeat, something I’m sure I will do on our next shopping trip. It’s just as good as, if not better than, most name brands. Now I’ve just got to make sure to get my fill before the season ends!

Overall: 9/10. Just phenomenal. The bread is perfectly moist, avoiding the crumbly, dry texture of other brands. The flavor is unmistakably pumpkin, but it’s not out to overwhelm tastebuds; it’s light enough for even casual fans of the fruit to appreciate, yet strong enough to appease hardcore fans. And at $3.49 per eight slice package (why can’t it be 10?!) value is pretty solid. It deserves a spot next to pumpkin pie as a virtual requirement for the season. It also deserves a spot next to the banana (and lemon) loaf cakes as part of their permanent inventory. It’s always pumpkin growing season somewhere! And who says it can only be eaten during one small period every year?

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