This Pumpkin Coffee Cake is simple yet very festive. Sweet and spicy, with a delicious crunch of pecans and tangy bursts of cranberries. Really easy to make and perfect to enjoy during the holidays.
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When I started learning to cook and bake many moons ago, I could only do it by following a recipe precisely. Changing an ingredient or even a quantity of something would result in a total disaster.
As I got confident and learned intricacies of magic that is cooking, I started to experiment in the kitchen. Soon, recipes weren’t a to-do list anymore, they became an inspiration and a loose guide to follow.
Now, years later, I very rarely follow someone else’s recipe. I use photographs as inspirations and go from there.
However, there are still a few recipes from back then, back when I knew nothing about combining ingredients, back when I was scared to step away from the instructions. Those recipes travel with me from year to year.
They change with the seasons, they change with me. They adapt to my experience and my taste.
This Festive and Easy Pumpkin Coffee Cake is one of those recipes: Found more than a decade ago in a cookbook called A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash by Lou Seibert Pappas; Baked numerous times over the many holidays; Changed to accommodate my fridge and my pantry; Evolved into a beautiful and delicious desserts that graces my kitchen table every holiday season.
This Pumpkin Coffee Cake is simple yet very festive. Sweet and spicy. With a delicious crunch of pecans and tangy bursts of cranberries. It’s comforting and soft and fragrant. Really easy to make and it’s perfect to enjoy during the holidays.
What is a Coffee Cake?
According to a wikipedia article, coffee cake is either a cake flavoured with coffee or a single layer cake that is eaten with coffee.
Most North American coffee cakes usually have some kind of cinnamon streusel on top and they very often have a cinnamon filling in the middle. They are also commonly made with sour cream.
How to make Pumpkin Coffee Cake
I am a big fan of one-bowl cakes. However, this Pumpkin Coffee Cake really needs two bowls: one for the wet ingredients and one for the dry ingredients. I have tried combining everything in one bowl but it resulted in gummy texture.
Even with using two bowls, this cake is very easy to make. You do not need any mixers or special equipment.
For this cake you need to whisk together the eggs, oil, buttermilk (I use kefir most of the time), sugars, and pumpkin purée. Then add pecans (or walnuts) and frozen cranberries.
Usually all the fillings are added once the batter is combined, but here we want to mix the batter as little as possible, so that’s why both pecans and cranberries are added before the dry ingredients.
Mix some flour, ground almonds, spices, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Here’s a very important step: mix just until combined! Do not over mix! If there’s a tiny bit of flour visible, then just leave it be!
For some reason this Pumpkin Coffee Cake goes from beautifully fluffy to gummy in a matter of two extra stirs. That’s why I add the pecans and cranberries even before I add the flour.
Ingredients and substitutions for Pumpkin Coffee Cake
- Pumpkin purée
- I always use canned pumpkin but feel free to make your own purée just make sure it’s not too watery.
- You do NOT taste the pumpkin in this Pumpkin Coffee Cake.
- It is used for adding a lot of moisture to the cake without calories, basically instead of butter and sour cream.
- It also adds a beautiful colour.
- Although the spices are what you would traditionally find in a Pumpkin Pie Spice mix, the proportion of the ingredients is different.
- The spices make this cake feel very festive and the amount of ginger and cinnamon resembles gingerbread a bit.
- Ground Almonds
- Ground almonds add a fine slight nuttiness to the flavour of this Pumpkin Coffee Cake as well as a add to the texture.
- I have not tried omitting them but most likely you could use equivalent amount of flour. Please let me know if you try.
- Original recipe used cornmeal.
- I usually use Kefir but Buttermilk will work also.
- You can use plain yogurt also.
- Do not use Greek yogurt as it’s too thick.
- Pecans work much better in this cake than walnuts as they are softer and have a milder flavour.
- You can use walnuts instead. In fact, I am using walnuts in the video just because I ran out of pecans.
- I use frozen cranberries as I usually have them in the freezer all year.
- Feel free to use fresh cranberries.
- I would recommend against using dried cranberries as you want the whole berries that burst with juices and flavour.
Here are some recipes that use leftover pumpkin purée
- Pumpkin Cranberry Fudge
- Vegan Pumpkin Cake
- Instant Pot Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo
- Instant Pot Cornbread
Don’t forget to purchase a copy of my cookbook, The Ultimate One-Pan Oven Cookbook, it has a few recipes that use pumpkin in a very unique way. It is also an amazing Holidays gift and it’s on sale on Amazon now!!!
Don’t forget to watch the video to see how easy it is to make this Festive Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Cranberries and Pecans.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake
This recipe is adapted from Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Coffeecake recipe from "A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squashes" cookbook by Lou Seibert Pappas.
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or Kefir)
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 cup frozen cranberries
- 1 cup chopped pecans (divided into 2/3+1/3 cup)
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a big bowl, whisk together the eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk (or kefir), and pumpkin purée until very smooth.
- Add the frozen cranberries, 2/3 cup of chopped pecans and mix until well combined.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves.
- Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix just until incorporated. Make sure to NOT over mix. If there's a bit of flour visible, it's ok to leave it. Over mixing will result in tough and gummy cake.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of chopped pecans over the cake.
- Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the cake.
- Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- In my oven this Pumpkin Coffee Cake always takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. If your oven runs hotter, it might take 55-60 minutes. So, make sure to start checking for doneness around 55 minute mark.