PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE CRUMB CAKE (GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN)
Twas my birthday this past week. 24 years of sparkly life.
The few times I have said to friends, "I don't feel like I'm 24." They've countered: "Yeah, you seem much older than that." Honestly, I meant I feel like I'm perpetually 21. But that statement you seem older than your age is repeated to me over and over and over.
I've been told I act older than my age my whole life. My family tells me I was a little old lady even as a 3 year old flopping around in my mom's too-large-for-me high heels. Like a bossy, short grandma. As a young child I found it hard to relate to other kids my age. Sure, I was a sucker for barbies, dress-up, lollipops. But I was also a sucker for books with big words and conversations on what-it-all-means. This made me pretty weird to the kids in my neighborhood(s). Bookworms always get the worst of it.
Perhaps every kid feels out of place in a world designed by & for grown-ups; but I certainly felt alone and separate from the age group with which I was meant to socialize. As I grew up, I learned a number of fancy tricks to ingratiate myself among older folks, allowing me into the magical inner circle of their advanced-to-me minds. Mostly these tricks involved me being flexible and funny. I would laugh and make jokes and be an easy conversationalist. I would act a clown. I think a lot of it came down to being brave enough to make mistakes and come off a fool. Which I did. Often. (Mostly for the best.)
Each year I learn more about what it is to be human. So much of being what we are has to do with fumbling through the universe all-thumbs. Giving it a go, testing the waters, trying it out: it's what makes us inventors and artists and lovers. Throwing ourselves into the unknown -- and seeing what happens -- is the only way to find that which is GREAT in life! We might end up with some bumps and bruises, but the returns on the pains are generally worth it -- in my opinion. Like a really good soup, you just keep throwing things in until it's delicious.
This cake is a perfect example of piecing together something wonderful out of a bunch of disparate bits and bobs. I often find myself standing in my kitchen staring at some unused ingredient, pouting over what the heck to do with it. I had all of these yummy unfrosted birthday cupcakes quickly becoming stale on the kitchen counter. Googling "what to do with leftover cupcakes" isn't a very lucrative search-term, I find. So I started flipping through my much loved cookbooks. The Babycakes NYC cookbooks are some of my favorites, and Erin McKenna's writing style (sassy, adorable, know-it-all New Yorker) always makes me giggle. I love to re-invent her recipes with new flavor combinations and substitute flours (I'm pretty sure she would be pissed that I even think about changing her recipes!). But I've made her recipes exactly as written so many times that I feel like I've climbed inside of her head and absorbed some of her magical powers.
That's how I made this pumpkin latte crumb cake, my friends. Part improv skills, part Erin McKenna maaaagic.
Pumpkin Crumb Cake
Adapted from Erin McKenna's "Blueberry Crumb Cake" via Babycakes
1 cup Vanilla Cupcake Crumb Base
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup Trader Joe's gluten-free all purpose baking mix
1/3 cup garbanzo-fava bean flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water (combine to make a chia "egg")
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted + more for the pan
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup espresso vanilla sauce
Preheat the oven to 325'F. Line the bottom of a 9 x 3 inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and coat lightly with coconut oil.
In a medium bowl, combine vanilla cupcake crumb base with 1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
In second medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, 2 tsp cinnamon & salt. Add 1/4 cup oil, agave, chia egg, vanilla, vinegar, and pumpkin puree. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.
Pour batter into your prepared pan, smoothing the top of the batter out with a spatula. Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and spoon the vanilla cupcake crumb topping evenly over the top of the half-baked cake, pressing the topping gently into the cake. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes more. The crumb topping will be golden and lightly crisp to the touch, where the cake will be firm.
Let the cake cool 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loose the cake from the pan. Place a large cutting board on top of the pan and flip the cake upside down. Gently lift the pan away and re-invert the cake onto a serving platter.
Pour espresso vanilla sauce in criss cross patterns over top of your cake. The cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can re-crisp up the top layer by placing it in the oven for 5 minutes on 350'F.
Vanilla Cupcake Crumb Base
Adapted from Erin McKenna's "Vanilla Crumb Base" via Babycakes
6 unfrosted vanilla cupcakes
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/8 tsp salt
In a medium bowl, crumble cupcakes into small bits using your hands. Add oil, agave, and salt and fold together using a spatula until well combined. Store for up to 4 days at room temp in an air-tight container. Can be frozen for up to 3 weeks.
You can really use any cupcake recipe for this, and crumble it over the top your coffee cake. To keep it gluten free & vegan, you can use Erin McKenna's recipe posted here via epicurious. This is the one I used:
3 cups einkorn flour, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 cup warm almond milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 eggs, yolk and whites separated
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Preheat oven to 325'F. Line 2 standard 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners or coat with coconut oil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Combine yolks, melted coconut oil, vanilla bean, almond milk, and vinegar in a small bowl. Fold mixture into the dry ingredients.
In a separate medium bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold gently into the batter until no egg white is visible.
Pour 1/3 cup cake batter into each prepared cup, leaving a bit of space in each cup for the cakes to rise. Bake on the center rack 22 minutes, rotating 180 degrees half-way through. The finished cupcakes will be golden brown and will bounce back when pressure is applied gently to the center.
Let cool 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Espresso Vanilla Sauce
Adapted from Erin McKenna's "Vanilla Icing" via Babycakes Cover the Classics
1/4 cup espresso coffee beans
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup warm almond milk
3/4 cup Better than Milk Soy (or Rice) Powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup coconut oil, melted
Grind 1/4 cup espresso beans into a fine powder. Set aside.
In a magic bullet (or cuisinart) combine & blend almond milk, agave, soy milk powder, and vanilla until uniform in texture. Add coconut oil 1/4 cup at a time, blending until creamy. Add espresso powder and blend until combined.
This mixture can be refrigerated to create a yummy thick cupcake frosting as well!