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This is the best pumpkin crumb cake in the world. And it’s healthy. And gluten-free. I kid you not.
In case you haven’t noticed, I waited to start posting pumpkin recipes until I saw physical evidence of fall around here: leaves on the lawn, cooler morning temps, a certain zing in the air. Unlike many of my fellow bloggers, I don’t start baking with pumpkin until September. Sorry, guys. I hate the end of summer. Hate it.
But man, do I love this cake. I made a version of this a year ago, and it stuck with me. It’s the only pumpkin cake ever that I have not been able to stop eating. It’s that good. And it’s also that good for you. Plus, all of my gluten-free friends who thought that good crumb cake was a thing of the past can rejoice. It’s easy to make a good crumb topping with dietary restrictions! You just have to know how.
That’s true of so many life skills that seem hard but really aren’t that bad. I’ve been working on a book that centers on taking the stigma out of baking. You know, that perception about baking being difficult and time-consuming. Sure, it can be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s always another option.
When I was a kid, my style of learning was very different from the other people in my class. The teacher would explain how to do something, and it just wouldn’t click with me. For instance, teachers taught me how to outline my essays using roman numerals and numbers, and while I dutifully constructed the outlines, they never translated into good essays. I just couldn’t see how their way of getting something done was logical, and as a result, my own confidence went down. Everyone else seemed to be doing okay, so I must have been the problem.
It wasn’t until later when I was older that I started trusting my own instincts, and that’s when I started to be successful. Instead of doing tasks the way everyone else did them, I tried them in a way that made sense to my brain. My essay outlines became organized lists of ideas, and I even pulled off an A in a math class (the highest I’d ever gotten was a C) after I found a new way to look at a formula. Suddenly, I was getting straight As every semester, and it translated to other areas of my life.
Like baking. Candy thermometers were scary and I was a poor struggling teacher (this was 16 years ago), so I learned how to make fudge without one. Creaming butter was too hard without a stand mixer (oh, how I love my Kitchen Aid now!), so I developed brownie and cookie recipes that could be made with melted butter. And when baking blogs became a thing, I started reading them religiously. I learned so much from all of you, my bloggy friends, and from trial and error day after day.
Now I’m a very different person, but I’ll never forget what it felt like to be uncertain and unsure about how to do anything. That’s why I try to make it easier for my blog audience, and why I bake for people who might not have a kitchen full of awesome equipment. And it’s why I’m writing my book.
This pumpkin cake needs no mixer or any other equipment. The cake is simple to make, as is the crumb. Did you know that melted butter makes the best base for a crumb topping? Not cold butter with a pastry blender. I know that’s the prevailing wisdom, but I like my way better. And for this topping, I used certified gluten-free oat flour. It came out great, with a nuttiness of flavor that goes so well with pumpkin.
If you have to bake dessert for a GF friend this fall, make it this cake. They will not believe what you’ve done, and they’ll think it was hard. But it wasn’t, and at that point, you get to spread the gospel. Baking doesn’t have to be hard to be great!
- Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8 x 8 square pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the sugars and white chocolate chips until well incorporated. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs and sugars and mix well. Add the pumpkin and oil and stir again. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat until a smooth batter has formed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set aside while you make the crumb topping.
- In a medium bowl, mix the powdered sugar and oat flour. Add the melted butter and, using your hands along with a spatula, combine the ingredients to form large crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the cake.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is done, as tested by a toothpick. Cool and then cut into squares.