I have a confession to make…I don’t like pumpkin pie.
I’m not proud of it. You see, I generally like pumpkin desserts, it’s just pumpkin pie sets my gag reflex into overdrive. So, when people are celebrating the return of PSL (which nowadays means pumpkin spice eVERYthang), in AUGUST!!, I’m over here like, “Ugh!!! Here we go again!!” Every single time Autumn rolls around and I begin to hear the giddiness in their voices or see my timeline inundated with PSL this and that, I start feeling like some pumpkin club interloper. I have always longed to enjoy a slice of creamy pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving without gagging on it, because gagging’s just not cute; especially when it’s a pie you made that you’re gagging on. People know I don’t fit in and they judge me for it. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to reassure people that the pie I’ve created, but won’t eat, really is divine. I’m just a spaz when it comes to getting it down- I tend to have issues. They eventually believe me, they try it, and now everyone enjoys my pumpkin pie while I watch from afar- longing to be cool.
Thankfully, I’ve figured out that pumpkin pie isn’t the only way to get in on the pumpkin action. I’ve broken free from my erratic aversion to the gourd, and now enjoy it in a variety of ways. Come October *AHEM!!* the proper time to enjoy pumpkin anything, I’m in the kitchen making up new recipes and blowing the dust off of the old ones. Maybe one day, I’ll put on my big girl britches and attempt to taste pumpkin pie again. I’ll definitely have to make sure I’m wearing waterproof mascara and standing in the bathroom, though. I tell you, friend, heaving is so déclassé.
This is, hands down, my favorite pumpkin recipe for breakfast. It’s buttery, spicy and filling. It’s cake for crying out loud! How can that be bad? Cake for breakfast. It’s a blessing from the precious Lord above is what it is.
Coffee cakes are richer than their birthday cake cousins; this is a result of having a higher ratio of fat and eggs in their batter. It’s the perfect breakfast potluck or brunch contribution because of that ratio as well. The richer the cake, the longer it takes to go stale, so you can bake it the night before and plop it down on the communal table; no one will be the wiser. The joy of preparing a coffee cake is in its ease. The only piece of cautionary advice is to be vigilant you don’t over-mix in the final stages (after the last addition of flour) and cause the end product to become tough or tunneled (literally tunnels of air throughout the baked product). Tunneling causes the cake to not only look unattractive, but it’s also a result of the gluten strands in the moistened flour being overworked, so it naturally creates a tougher bread or cake- when what you really want is airy and tender. So while cakes such as this one are denser than a sponge cake would be, when done properly, it is so in a non-offensive way.
The pumpkin filling can be replaced by berry fillings, diced and spiced chunks of apples or any other type of fruit puree your precious heart desires. I have also been known to fancy it up sometimes by folding in a half cup of flaked coconut- I’m wild, I know. The streusel topping I’ve added is a simplified way to make something texturally intriguing.
Plain cake? Meh.
Plain cake with the crispy crunch of streusel baked on? “AHHHHH!!!!” (that’s a choir of angels singing right there)
Other streusels I’ve seen making their rounds on the internet are, sadly, calling for people to use biscuit mix. Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist, but have you seen the ingredient list on those boxes? I can’t even. For real, I can’t. I can’t pronounce it; can’t figure out if it’s a food or a chemical. I seriously can’t. Flour, butter, sugar- you all! That’s all stuff you can pronounce. You can pronounce it because it’s real and not adulterated. I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle, but please, make your streusel from stuff you can say. This recipe has the addition of nuts to amp up the texture, but they can be omitted or substituted (use oatmeal instead). Nuts. That we can say as well.
This cake is very freezer-friendly and I always double up my batter to allow for an additional 9×13″ pan to freeze for one of those rainy days (read: days I just can’t adult). Simply pop it out of the cake pan after baking and allow it to cool completely. Wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap and bag it in a sealing freezer bag. Pop it into the freezer for up to two months. When you’re ready to eat, pull it from the freezer and allow it thaw for at least four hours at room temperature before cutting and serving. Warm it if you choose or eat at room temperature. And- putting this out there- this cake is not just for breakfast. I’m not trying to suggest anything lewd, but I’ve heard tell you can slap some of my honey-vanilla ice cream on top, pour some spiced cajeta over it and have a bomb dessert in a New York minute. It may be a rumor, but you may wanna try it.
What about you? What foods do you have an aversion to? And WHEN do you think is the appropriate time for pumpkin? Comment below and let me know.
- 1½ cup pureed pumpkin
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¾ tsp ground ginger
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup pecans, toasted and crushed
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- To prepare the pumpkin custard: in a mixing bowl, blend together all of the ingredients until fully combined and smooth. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
- Prepare your streusel by combining the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and sugar together in a mixing bowl.
- Add the butter, water and nuts and cut into the flour to create a coarse, crumbly texture (either by using a pastry blender or by pinching together with your fingers). Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly spray a 9x13" baking dish with baking spray or grease and lightly flour.
- In your mixer's bowl, cream together the butter and sugar for 7 minutes on medium speed (or setting 3) or until very light and fluffy. Scrape down your bowl three or four times during the mixing time.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition to ensure the egg is incorporated fully. Scrape down the bowl between each addition of egg. This stage should take 4 minutes and the batter should have the consistency of mousse.
- While your batter is mixing, sift together your dry ingredients, twice, into a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
- When you have finished adding your eggs, scrape down your mixing bowl once again and add the flour in three equal measurements, alternating with the milk in equal measurements. I.e.: flour-milk-flour-milk-flour. This stage should mix no longer than 5 minutes.
- Scrape down your bowl, and stir one final time by hand, no more than three full circles around the bowl.
- Remove the pumpkin puree and streusel from the fridge.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and create three wells down the length of batter- like trenches the length of the pan- one in the middle and about 2" from the middle one. 1" from each long side of the pan.
- Scoop or pour the pumpkin puree into the trenches and give the pan a few taps on to the counter to release any air pockets.
- Liberally sprinkle the streusel over the "unpumpkined" sections of the cake and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Allow to cool for 1 hour if turning out whole to freeze.