I was initially dreading the end of Summer but it has to be said that there are some appealing aspects to Autumn – the pretty coloured leaves, big jumpers, Halloween, hot (alcoholic) drinks, soup, but most of all the warmly spiced baked goods. I love using spices in baking, and while I do use them year round, it feels so much more appropriate to be heavy handed with them in Autumn and Winter. Lately the internet has exploded with all things pumpkin, and not wanting to be left out I jumped on the bandwagon and baked this crumble topped pumpkin spice cake.
The cake is made with tinned pumpkin puree, which is a common, everyday ingredient in the US, but can be tricky (and expensive) to find in the UK. I stumbled across it in Sainsbury’s for a pound a tin so made sure to stock up. If you aren’t able to find it you can make your own by roasting pumpkin until tender then pureeing it. One annoying thing about a lot of pumpkin cake recipes is that they use just under a full can of puree so you are left with a little bit that you have to find something else to make with; this recipe uses the full can so there is no waste; this also makes for a beautifully moist cake.
The soft pumpkin cake is spiced with the heady combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, they are very much present, but don’t overpower at all. Although it might seem like quite a lot of sugar, this is a fairly large cake and I found it to be just the right level of sweetness – not too sweet at all. Because I wanted a fairly simple, un-iced cake I decided to top it with a generous sprinkling of crumble mixture; the contrast between soft cake and crunchy topping is fantastic, this is genuinely one of the most delicious cakes I have ever made or eaten, it is utterly irresistible!
I baked the cake in a 20cm/8in square tin but it rose quite a lot and turned out a little tall so I have given directions to bake it in a 23cm/9in square tin instead which I think will give better proportions; if you prefer to bake it in a 20cm/8in tin then note that it will take longer to cook – somewhere about the 70 minute mark. This is also an incredibly easy cake to make and there is no need for an electric mixer; the crumble topping is just made by rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients and for the cake batter you simply whisk together the wet ingredients then stir in the flour – simple!
- 125g (1 cup) plain flour
- 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 50g (1/4 cup) light brown soft sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 100g (3.5oz) cold butter, cubed
- 425g/15oz/1 can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 120ml (1/2 cup) sunflower/vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 330g (1 + ½ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ⅛ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 300g (2 + ½ cups) plain flour, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease a 23cm/9in square cake tin and line with a strip of baking parchment, leaving the ends overhanging so that it is easy to lift the cake out.
- To make the crumble topping, stir together the flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt in a bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and no lumps of butter remain. Set aside.
- Whisk together the pumpkin puree, sunflower oil, eggs and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in the spices, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda then stir in the flour.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and spread level. Sprinkle over the crumble topping evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cover loosely with tin foil partway through cooking if the top begins to colour too much.
- Allow to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes then use the overhanging parchment to carefully lift the cake out of the tin and place it on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, store in an airtight container.