Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Icing - made September 13, 2013 from Cooking Morning Noon Night

I really hate when a recipe fails on me.  The only thing I hate more is blogging about it.  It's so tempting to just put up the stuff that worked, especially when I still have a backlog of good posts to put up.  I know some bloggers only put their successes up so their blog is a consistent source of amazing recipes. I respect that. But I'm honest to a fault and when I first started my blog, it was about my "baking odyssey", good and bad, not "only the stuff that turned out". And I've always maintained I learn as much, if not more, from my failures than my successes so I can't not put up the stuff that didn't turn out.

I pinned this cake to my pinboard last year but I was waiting for fall to arrive before I started baking pumpkin desserts. Without any input or encouragement on my part, 2013 decided to whip on by and sure enough, now it's fall, just like that.  So time to try out this recipe.  The directions suggest this cake can be made in a 8 x 11" pan which translates into 88 square inches so I thought it would be "close enough" if I used a 9 x 9" pan or 81 square inches.  Ha.  Wrong. Actually I think I would've been okay even though the cake baked up to a greater thickness than I anticipated except for the streusel.  The darn streusel that makes a good coffee cake but also needs less baking time than an overly thick cake.  I let the cake bake as long as I dared before the streusel started to protest that it was on the verge of burning.  Then I took it out and hoped for the best.  Let it cool, made the brown butter glaze, iced the cake, and tried a piece.
Sadly, the cake was underdone. You can tell just by the picture because that bottom layer is very dense and even looks raw. It didn't even taste that good either, probably because it wasn't baked properly, was too heavy and dense and the flavor didn't impress.  I need to try it again and this time, bake it in at least a 10 x 10 or even a 9 x 13" pan.  It might make for a thinner cake but at least  the cake has a fighting chance of baking long enough before the streusel gives a kick and says "Take me outta here, I'm done." Lesson learned - when baking something with a topping, don't bake the cake in too small of a pan or it won't have time to bake before the topping burns. It sounds obvious now but is clearly one of those things I had to learn the hard way as a reminder. On the plus side, the brown butter icing and the streusel were good.

For the Coffee Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
15 oz can pumpkin
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease the inside of a tube pan, bundt pan,  8x11 baking dish or 2 8 inch pie pans (the choice is yours!)
In your stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Add the pumpkin and eggs and mix thoroughly. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and spices. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix on low speed, then medium speed until combined. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
Combine the Streusel ingredients in a medium bowl and sprinkle over the cake batter.
Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.

Brown butter icing:
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
whole milk

Place your butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt until browned and fragrant (about 3-4 minutes). Check the butter often. Pour the butter into the powdered sugar and combine with a whisk. Add just enough milk, starting with one tablespoon at a time until you have a pour-able icing.

Drizzle over the cooled cake


  1. Thank you for posting this! I love to read about recipe "fails." It helps me learn what works and what doesn't. NO ONE likes to spend time, money, and energy on a recipe that does not come out right. I wish more blogs were like yours.

    1. Thank you for making me feel better about a recipe fail :).