Pumpkin Coffee Cake | Vegan + Gluten-Free


Nerdship, I have missed you so!  I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long, but it was for a very good reason.  I’m in my last year of an MFA program and I’ve spent the long weeks I’ve been away from all of you finishing the first draft of my thesis.  I wrote a thing that will someday {crosses all of the things} be an actual BOOK.

Once I finished that, I realized that it was almost Fall.  Where did the summer go?  Not that I’ll miss the humidity, but I will miss the sunshine.  Fall is actually my favorite time of year – it’s the start of TV season, I can start wearing hoodies and sweaters again, and it means pumpkin and apple season.


I’m probably in the minority, but I don’t actually like Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  I think the syrup tastes weird and honestly, there’s too much milk in the way of my sweet, sweet espresso.  But you know what I do like with coffee?  Coffee cake.  Since I’ve figured out I have a gluten intolerance, I can only stare longingly into that shiny glass case at Starbucks at the soft, cinnamon-y goodness.


This recipe puts together a lot of my favorite Fall things – pumpkin, cinnamon, CAKE.  It’s very easy to make this straight, i.e. with regular flour, butter, and milk, so if you don’t have any dietary restrictions, you’re good to go.  But because the pumpkin is a binder, it’s a perfectly easy vegan treat too.  The cake itself isn’t super sweet, the pumpkin flavor really comes through nicely. The glaze is optional, but I think it looks pretty and it gives an extra pop of sweetness at the end.


Pumpkin Coffee Cakes

Makes 9 – 12 slices depending on pan shape


For the Crumb Topping

  • ½ cup of gluten free all purpose flour
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • ¼ cup or 4 tablespoons of cold vegan buttery spread (I prefer Earth Balance)
  • 1/8 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/8 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

For the Pumpkin Cake

  • 2 cups of gluten free all-purpose flour (Bob’s Red Mill this time)
  • ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of soy milk

For the Glaze

  • 2/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 of a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of soy milk



Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9 pan.  Mine is rectangular, but a square will work fine as well.

First, we make the crumbly topping. In a bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Make sure if your brown sugar is a little lumpy, like mine was, that you break it all up.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-crumb topping - dry-2


Next, toss in your cold butter.  You can mix this with a pastry cutter, like I have, or a fork. But man, that pastry cutter has been the best kitchen tool I’ve gotten in a long time.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-crumb topping - butter-3
Once it’s nice and lumpy, add in the walnuts and pecans.  This is a completely optional add in – I like it because it gives the topping a nice texture.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-crumb topping - nuts-4


Set the crumb topping aside for now – you could even stick it in the fridge if your kitchen gets hot like mine.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-crumb topping - done-5


Next, we make the cake!  You’ll need two bowls, one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet. I hate using the extra bowl too, but it makes the actual batter making part simpler.


Mix together the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-cake - dry-6


In the other bowl, you’ll add the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, vegetable oil, maple syrup, and soy milk.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-cake - wet-7


Stir those until well combined.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-cake - wet mixed-8


Then you want to add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredient and fold in gently.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-cake - mixing in progress-9


The batter will be thick, but don’t overmix.  Just make sure you’ve gotten all those pesky flour pockets. Luckily, I have a glass bowl and was able to catch a big lump of flour that hadn’t been incorporated very well before I put the batter in the pan.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-cake - mixing complete-10

Then, pour into the baking pan and distribute the batter evenly.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-in the pan-11
Grab your delicious crumb topping (no, I totally DID NOT eat a spoonful of it, what are you talking about) and spread it evenly over the top of the cake.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-with crumb topping-12
Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.  Check it with a toothpick, which should come out clean.  Leave it out on the rack to cool for 20 minutes.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-out of the oven-13


At this point, you could eat this cake.  But I’m never mad at a little vanilla glaze.


In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and pumpkin pie spice.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-glaze - dry-14
Add in one tablespoon of soy milk to start with and add more to thin out the glaze to your preference.  I think I ended up using about another half tablespoon in mine.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-glaze mixed-15


Drizzle the glaze liberally over the still cooling cake. Definitely do not eat the last bit of glaze in the bowl with a spoon.

NerdsAndNomsense_PumpkinCoffeeCake-glazed and delicious-16


Slice and serve with whatever drink you like – tea, coffee, mulled cider, hot toddy, etc.

This will keep for at least three days in an airtight container and will freeze, but I’d leave off the glaze if you go that route.


I will be eating a piece of this tonight while I watch catch up on all my fall TV shows.  I added Gotham and Forever to my DVR.  What is everyone else watching?



1 Comment

  • Charity Vandehey says:

    Yum! This looks soooooooo delicious! If I weren’t avoiding sugar currently, I would totally make it. I may have to anyway at least once before the ending of the season.

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