Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Aaaaaand pumpkin mania continues…

… this time in the form of a delectable coffee cake with an addictive pecan crumb topping.

I was flipping through the September issue of Bon Appetit and stumbled upon a recipe for blueberry coffee cake that caught my attention. Seeing as though berry season is over and pumpkin season is just beginning (yessss!) it was a no-brainer to adapt the recipe into a more seasonal treat.

There is neither oil nor butter in the actual cake; instead I used pumpkin puree. Combined with lowfat buttermilk, the pumpkin lends moisture without the need for added fat.

I did use oil in the crumb topping, though, where it really counts! Most of the fat in the recipe actually comes from the pecans, the amount of which I doubled from the original recipe. Pecans and pumpkin naturally go hand-in-hand, and the nuts really make this coffee cake something special.

There is also a beautiful ribbon of cinnamon-sugar running throughout every piece of coffee cake.

Cinnamon is the predominant flavor addition, but pumpkin pie spices also made their way into the batter. There actually isn’t an in-your-face pumpkin flavor to the coffee cake, so chances are any of your anti-pumpkin family members or friends will still enjoy it.

After somehow managing to wait until the cake cooled, I dug in to this piece with the requisite cup of [decaf] coffee as an accompaniment.

I was very pleased with how soft and moist the cake was, as well as with the level of sweetness. Although undeniably an indulgent way to start the day, this coffee cake does taste more like breakfast than dessert.

Given that there is almost no fat in the actual cake, the coffee cake will dry out a bit the longer it sits, so it is best when enjoyed the same day it is baked.

I’m already thinking about making an apple version, with unsweetened applesauce in place of pumpkin puree, walnuts instead of pecans, and perhaps a layer of caramelized apples between the cake and crumb topping.

But before that happens, I’m looking forward to my next piece of this delicious pumpkin coffee cake!



Pumpkin Coffee Cake

by Lauren Zembron

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Keywords: bake breakfast snack vegetarian pumpkin pecans Halloween Thanksgiving fall

Ingredients (9 servings)

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp fine grain cornmeal
  • 1 tsp + 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, divided use
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp unrefined granulated sweetener, such as evaporated cane juice, divided use
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, preferably organic
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk, well-shaken

Ingredients for crumb topping:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp neutral flavored vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch square pan and line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, 1 tsp cinnamon, rest of the spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for the cake.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and pumpkin puree in a large bowl until well-mixed. Whisk in vanilla extract. Whisk in eggs until well-combined.

Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions; stir until dry ingredients are fully moistened.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Whisk remaining 2 Tbsp sugar and remaining 1 Tbsp cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter. Spread remaining batter over top in an even layer.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, salt, and nuts for the crumb topping. Add in the oil, and stir with a fork until crumbly. Scatter crumb topping evenly over the batter in the pan.

Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs, 35-40 minutes.

Allow cake to cool in pan before cutting into pieces and serving.

Coffee cake is best served the same day it is baked.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

282.5 calories, 10.8 grams fat, 1.2 grams saturated fat, 4.7 grams fiber, 22.0 grams sugars, 5.7 grams protein

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25 thoughts on “Pumpkin Coffee Cake

  1. Amazing! No lie, I was JUST thinking of making a pumpkin coffee cake last week. I swear, we are always on the same page girl. :)

  2. Oh maaaan, this looks so good!! I’m obsessed with all things pumpkin right now, so feel free to continue with more pumpkin recipes, heh heh heh. :) Thanks!

  3. Pumpkin MANIA! :) Yes, do please continue with that. And I’ll join you. The topping looks so good! I’ve made streusel like topping before with oil but nothing that looks that good. And the cinnamon swirl! This looks perfect.

  4. Can’t get enough of good ‘ol pumpkin this time of year! And I love the high-fiber content. As long as you don’t overdo it on the number of servings, you’ll be fine. I’m going to give this one a try for sure!

  5. looks delicious! one question though…is there a good sub for the cornmeal? i don’t have any on hand and don’t really want to buy a whole thing of cornmeal for just 1T (it’s not an ingredient i use often)…thanks! :)

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