Cranberry Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Did a freezer check: cranberries – yep; pumpkin – yep, nuts – yep. I’ve been craving cake. So sick of cookies and pie from the holidays that I can’t bear the thought of them, but cake.. well. Yep. Uh huh. Cake. :) I can do cake, especially with cranberries and pumpkin!

So, have you ever printed off a recipe because the title sounded good and the ingredient list was to your liking, then halfway through making it you realized it might not be what you were expecting?

I printed off a recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Cake. I glanced down the ingredient list, and I USUALLY read all the instructions before beginning. This time I didn’t. Don’t be like me, even though it all worked out in the end.

The batter tasted great, but after adding the fruit and nuts, it was no longer pourable, now it was spreadable. I’m pretty sure this recipe is supposed to resemble more of a coffee cake or a quick bread, even though it’s baked in two round cake pans. The icing is just a powdered sugar glaze and you don’t put the layers together. There’s an optional crumb topping too. That, and it called for oil and it bakes for over an hour, indicative of a quick bread or muffin.

But I wanted cake *pout* and was already halfway through the recipe. So I decided to sub butter for the oil, I didn’t have enough walnuts, so I did a mixture of walnuts and pecans, and used the pumpkin I had pureed and froze this fall, which amounted to less than the recipe called for. Yep, I was a little worried, but all for not. It all came together beautifully, though I do think it could have used another 5-10 minutes in the oven as the bottom was a bit moister than it should have been (I’ve adjusted for that in the recipe below).

This cake recipe calls for a full bag of fresh or frozen cranberries. If you don’t like tart, I would cut that down to 3/4 or even 1/2 a bag. I loved it though, especially with the glaze. It adds just enough sweetness to counteract the tart cranberries.

I was surprised that with the amount of spices in this recipe, it didn’t taste overly spicy, but the flavor is really wonderful. If you prefer a high spiced pumpkin flavor, just add more is what I say. :)

I’m calling my adaptation a coffee cake, though it could certainly be served for dessert. It crusty edges remind me of breakfast muffins, and paired with the glaze, it looks like a coffee cake, don’t you think? Lovely. :)

My version of this recipe is below, if you want the original, visit the link to About’s Home Cooking

Pumpkin Cranberry Coffee Cake
adapted from The Inn at Thorn Hill’s recipe on About’s Home Cooking

[printable version]

1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
12 ounces (2 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
3 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups granulated sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch layer cake pans. Wash and drain the cranberries if they are fresh. If frozen, don’t thaw, just bring them out of the freezer while you are preparing the batter.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat on medium speed until light a fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, waiting about 30-45 seconds in between each one. Add pumpkin puree and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Turn mixture down to low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only unitl smooth. Fold in walnuts and cranberries. Turn into pans.

If using crumb topping (I did not) add it now, before putting cakes in the oven (recipe below). Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan(s) for 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack, careful, cakes are heavy!

When cool, drizzle with icing if you didn’t use crumb topping.

2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk

In a bowl, mix sugar and milk with a small spoon until desired consistency is reached. Add drops of milk to thin if needed. Drizzle over cakes and (if desired) sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Crumb Topping

If a crumb topping is preferred to icing, before baking sprinkle top of batter with the following mixture:

1-1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups brown sugar
Pinch of salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mix this all together to make damp crumbs.

This post is linked to Healthy Green Kitchen’s breakfast recipe blog carnival for Haiti. 


  1. biz319 says

    I am so glad I saw this Amanda – I was planning on trying out pumpkin biscotti with cranberries, and wasn't quite sure they would go together.

    Gotta love the glaze! Hope all is well with you!

  2. Cathy (breadexperience) says

    Thanks for posting this recipe Amanda! I was looking for a new coffee cake recipe. This looks like it just might work.

  3. Flourchild says

    This looks so moist and delicious Amanda! You are a cake girl..make them good everytime!!
    I hear you on being sick of cookies. I ate so many during the Holidays..

  4. Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

    It looks fabulous, seems like your tweaks to the recipe paid off. Cranberry and pumpkin in a cake sounds marvellous.

  5. Mags says

    I'm so glad it turned out for you. I was following along on the food blogger's discussion group and was wondering if you were going to have a success or a disappointment. It looks lovely!

  6. Chef Fresco says

    Haha well it looks like it turned out great at least! Esp with that glaze. I am bad at reading all the way through too sometimes :)

  7. Erin@The Sweet Life says

    Oooh, that looks good! I'm a sucker for anything with cranberries in it, and the pumpkin makes it a double-bonus!

  8. Tiffiny Felix says

    Yum…I know you wanted *cake*, but this really does look delicious. I love all the flavors in this–I'd better get some cranberries :)

  9. Amanda says

    Thanks everyone, this was a great treat. I passed one on to a neighbor, will have to find out what they thought of it!

  10. Winnie says

    Hi Amanda,
    Wow the cake really did turn out beautifully; I remember when you posted all your concerns to the foodblogs group…I guess they were very much unwarranted. Thanks for linking to my blog carnival!

  11. Sophie says

    I love seeing pumpkin recipes year-around. I'm impressed that you used your own pumpkin for this, looks moist and delicious.


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