Today I’m doing my best Paula Deen imitation with this recipe for Pumpkin Swirl Coffee Cake which requires almost 12 ounces of butter. I certainly don’t recommend baking with and eating this much butter all the time, but it is a nice indulgence once in a while. The result is quite possibly the most buttery and moist cake I’ve ever made. It is also light and tender with just the right amount of sweetness and spice. The crumbly pecan and brown sugar streusel made for a great topping, as well as a base, for the cake. My kitchen was filled with the heavenly aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, reminiscent of Thanksgiving, which, by the way, is a mere 56 days away!
Some of you may be wondering where the coffee is in the coffee cake. Frankly, it wasn’t until I went to culinary school that I learned that coffee cakes didn’t actually have to include coffee as an ingredient. They are a class of cakes that are so named because they were intended to be eaten with a cup of coffee. They may be flavored with cinnamon, nuts, and fruits, and most often have a crumbly streusel topping.
This cake was inspired by a recipe from Mrs. Fields, who is most commonly known for her cookies. Debbi Fields wrote a few cookbooks including the first one to top the New York Times bestseller list. Her third book, Debbi Fields’ Great American Desserts, which contains the Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake that inspired this pumpkin creation, was one of the first cookbooks I ever owned.
As its name suggests, this is a perfect coffee cake; that is, a cake perfect with a cup of coffee.
Pumpkin Swirl Coffee Cake
Yields 10-12 servings
For the cake
12 tablespoons, (6 ounces), unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
For the syrup
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste
For the streusel
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10″ tube pan, cake pan, or springform pan. (I used a 9″ round cake pan.)
To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the bowl again.
In a small mixing bowl, mix the pumpkin purée and sour cream together and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add this flour mixture to the butter mixture in the stand mixer in thirds, alternating with the pumpkin puree/sour cream mixture. Beat for 45 seconds after each addition, and begin and end with the flour mixture. Set aside while you make the syrup and streusel.
To prepare the cinnamon-spice swirl, stir together the melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger in a small bowl.
To make the streusel, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans and butter in a food processor and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
To assemble, pour about one-third of the batter onto the prepared pan. Scatter half of the streusel topping and then pour the rest of the batter on top. Drizzle the syrup over the batter and with the blade of a knife or a skewer, swirl the syrup through the batter. Scatter the rest of the streusel topping over the batter in the pan.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes: It appears from the photo that I didn’t really do a great job of swirling the cinnamon-spice syrup. You may want to just add syrup into the bowl of the stand mixer and mix just enough to swirl the syrup around or fold it in by hand for a “swirlier” effect. Also, I divided the streusel by adding some on the bottom of the cake as well as the top so that every bite gets a bit of the streusel.
Adapted from Great American Desserts, Debbi Fields, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1996.
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