When we were writing our cookbook, Eat Cake Naked, Delahna Flagg and I wanted to come up with a cake for all the bacon lovers in our lives. But we wanted to come up with a way to use bacon in a dessert that didn’t involve chocolate. So we came up with this unique bacon and pumpkin streusel coffee cake.
The inspiration for this coffee cake recipe was the best of autumn. Think pumpkin spice muffins and a side of bacon, except the whole thing is brought together in one delicious, made-from-scratch coffee cake with a salty and sweet streusel topping.
Ready to bake? You’re going to love this one!
What makes this a great recipe for pumpkin coffee cake?
We both love pumpkin bread. It is one of the easiest quick breads to make because of the added moisture pumpkin brings to the batter. In addition, pumpkin is historically aphrodisiac and since this recipe was written for an aphrodisiac cookbook, that was a bonus.
To make a great pumpkin coffee cake with streusel, you need the right balance of spices. But we also believe that you need something to balance the sweetness. So for this recipe, we added extra flavor with salty, candied bacon bits.
Tips for making the best streusel cake
Used canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling – A loaf-style cake is a great place to start if you’re new to making cakes from scratch. And with this cake, the addition of pumpkin helps guarantee your cake will never come out dry. (Adding ingredients like pumpkin or even zucchini or apple sauce to your cake mix adds moisture to the final cake.) However, there’s one very important ingredient distinction you must make before baking this cake.
Double-check your canned pumpkin puree. Make sure that you are not using canned pumpkin pie filling. You must use just pumpkin. Pumpkin pie filling is made with added sweeteners and spices. If you use it for this cake recipe, your streusel cake will be too sweet and overspiced.
Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are good – Using old leavening agents can result in a cake that doesn’t rise. It can be awful. Check the expiration date on both your baking powder and baking soda if they aren’t fresh. But even if they haven’t expired they may not be fresh. If you don’t remember when you opened them, do a quick hot water test. Pour hot water over the baking powder. If it fizzes, it’s still good. Do the same with baking soda but add a splash of white vinegar to the hot water before you add the baking soda.
Use fresh spices – Do you know how long your bottles of cinnamon and ground ginger have been open? Check the expiration dates. If they haven’t passed the date, do a sniff test. If they have a strong odor, they’re still vibrant and fairly fresh. As they get older, spices lose their flavor and aroma. Using old spices means sacrificing flavor.
Grease your pan well – Before you add your cake batter to the loaf pan, make sure that you thoroughly coat the entire inside of the pan with either butter or a non-stick cooking spray. Make sure you don’t miss the corners. This will ensure that you can easily remove the cake from the pan for a nice presentation. Since this cake has streusel on top, you don’t want to invert the pan upside down to remove it, the way you normally would. Instead, gently loosen the edges then slide the pan away from the bottom, supporting the cake as you go. It’s a little tricky but if your loaf pan has been greased well, this step should go smoothly.
Make mini loaves or muffins – Not a baking tip but a serving suggestion, you can use this coffee cake batter to make cute, mini pumpkin loaves or even pumpkin streusel muffins. The loaves make great gifts and the muffins are ideal for a seasonal brunch from October through Christmas.
Storage and freezing
If you don’t eat the whole cake in one go, store it on the countertop in an airtight container. Leftovers are best eaten in five days or less. I like to warm or toast leftover slices in the oven and eat them for breakfast. (Not the healthiest breakfast but tasty. And don’t forget, it has bacon in it!)
Leftover cake can be frozen but is best when frozen whole (or half cake), not sliced. Wrap the cake tightly before freezing and do not save frozen cake for more than three months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Why this is a cake for a romantic occasion
Let’s talk about bacon. There really is no history of bacon as an aphrodisiac. I know, it’s hard for me to believe, too. In fact, when people want to “talk aphrodisiac” with me, it’s the single, most mentioned food.
Bacon is so popular in our modern culture when we talk about food and sex that I even included it in my dictionary of aphrodisiac foods. Many bacon lovers have sworn to me that the mere scent of cooking bacon can send them into the throes of passion. It’s definitely something to consider when you’re getting ready to bake this coffee cake.
Sometimes, it’s the timing that matters most.
Homemade Pumpkin Loaf Cake with Bacon Streusel
for the bacon sprinkles:
- 2 oz applewood-smoked bacon approximately 2 slices of thick-cut bacon
- 1 tbsp brown sugar lightly packed
for the streusel:
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 1 tsp water
- bacon sprinkles
for the loaf cake:
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup coconut flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar lightly packed
- 1/2 cup 2% or whole milk
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use avocado oil)
- 1 15- oz can pumpkin
to make the bacon sprinkles:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Arrange the bacon strips on the baking sheet.
- Cook the bacon until crisp, approximately 18-20 minutes. (Keep the fires burning in the oven after you’ve removed the bacon. You’ll use it again in a few minutes.)
- Wrap the bacon in a blanket of paper towels and press out the grease. You may need to use additional towels to soak up as much grease as possible.
- Once the grease is removed, cut the bacon crosswise into 1/3-inch strips.
- Transfer the bacon to another parchment-lined baking sheet and tenderly coat with brown sugar.
- Return the bacon to the oven and coat for 14-15 minutes until it’s ultra-crispy. (Keep the oven hot for the cake.)
- Separate the bacon from the brown sugar and finely chop it until it resembles bacon bits. These bacon sprinkles will be added to your buttery streusel.
to make the streusel:
- Combine the flour, sugar and bacon in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle with the water and cut in the butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly.
- Squeeze it in your hands until it’s thoroughly combined then break into large, sugary bites with a bit of fine crumbs for a variety of texture.
to make the cake:
- Make sure your oven is heated to 350.
- Coat a 9-inch (1.5-qt.) loaf pan with butter or baking spray.*
- In the bowl of a mixer or a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and brown sugar.
- Add the vinegar to the milk and take it for a quick twirl.
- If you’re using a mixer, crack the egg into a small bowl then add it to the mixer (or to your bowl if you aren’t using a mixer). Add in the milk and oil and blend for one minute, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. If you’re working it by hand, make a small well in the center of the flour mixture. Gently whisk the egg in a small bowl then add it, along with the oil, to the milk. Pour the liquid into the center of the bowl and rhythmically stir until the ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Fold in the pumpkin and stir to a smooth, thick batter.
- Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan, gently smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the streusel,
- Transfer the cake to the oven. (The streusel may topple over the sides of the pan during baking. If you don’t want to risk having to clean your oven, cook the loaf pan on top of a baking sheet. Note that cooking may take a few minutes longer.) Bake for 70-75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
A note on the provided nutrition informationThe nutrition information provided has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This article was originally published in 2020 and most recently updated in November 2022.
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