November 6, 2011
This lovely little fall cake came together last spring, when we had half a can of pumpkin puree in the freezer, and some sour cream and cream cheese in the fridge that needed using up. Don't you love it when you have to bake something because otherwise, things would go bad, and you just can't let that happen. Just today, in fact, I had no choice but to make up a batch of these cream scones because I couldn't let the whipping cream that we'd bought go bad. Now there are 12 scones awaiting us in the freezer for a breakfast emergency.
But back to the coffee cake. I realize that it's a bit silly that we waited until the fall to share it with you, since we used canned pumpkin which really is not exactly a seasonal item. But there's something really appealing about baking with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and pumpkin during this season, even if the pumpkin comes from a can (it's available year round, I'm sure, but it's not until October that the grocery store starts featuring it at the ends of aisles, with big signs, suggesting that you bake something delicious).
The cake was adapted from an old favorite recipe for a classic sour cream coffee cake that we found on Epicurious, originally from The World of Jewish Desserts. We added pumpkin and altered some of the other proportions to balance that out, and changed the streusel to a cream cheese rather than a butter base. Because the streusel is quite sweet, we cut out a lot of the sugar in the cake, and of course added some spices. Note that the batter will seem almost alarmingly thick, but don't worry - spread it out with a spatula and it will bake up just fine.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake
Adapted from Ashkenazic Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Handful of golden raisins, if desired
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest
First, make the streusel: cut the cream cheese into smaller squares, and then add all the other ingredients (except the raisins, if you're using those). You can use either your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter to cut the cream cheese into the dry ingredients until you have course crumbs. If you're using your fingers, be aware that the cream cheese will get soft very quickly so you have to work fast. When it's well mixed, put it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan (use a springform, if you have one).
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Mix well and set aside.
Use a stand or hand mixer to cream the butter, then add the sugar, beating until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream, pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon zest, beating well after each addition.
Next, with the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in two parts, beating until combined. Pour about two thirds of the batter (you don't need to be too precise, but aim for a little over half) into the prepared cake pan, then sprinkle it with half the streusel topping. Pour on the rest of the batter, spreading it as best you can (it's thick, but don't worry if the streusel gets mixed into it a little bit or if it doesn't fully cover the edges of the streusel layer below). Sprinkle the rest of the streusel over the top, put it in the oven, and bake for about 50 minutes - until the edges of the cake pull away from the pan and a tester comes out clean.