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Homemade easy Pumpkin Coffee Cake recipe is the perfect fall breakfast treat. Using a doctored cake mix, with a ribbon of gooey brown sugar and pecan swirl throughout, finished with a simple maple syrup glaze. A quick, moist and delicious fall dessert.
While I am a firm believer in making things from scratch, sometimes I use a cake mix. But we make it even better by amping it up with many delicious ingredients!
If you like doctored up cake mix desserts, then try our favorites: Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake, Easy Pumpkin Dump Cake Recipe and a reader favorite Chocolate Chocolate Chip Copycat Nothing Bundt Cake.
How to Make a Boxed Cake Mix Taste Like Homemade
By changing out a few ingredients in a box cake mix; you have a richer, more moist and dense, delicious cake!
- Ditch the Water
Substitute whole milk, your favorite plant based milk (coconut would be divine) or even better, buttermilk, but due to the thickness of buttermilk add a few tablespoons more.
- Flavor in the Fat
Normally, I’d swap out cup for cup; melted butter for oil, but today I stuck with heart healthy avocado oil.
- Add an Extra Egg (or two)
Being at high altitude, I have always added an extra egg to my cake mixes, why? The egg white contributes strength and the yolk contains a natural emulsifier that allows batter to hold extra sugar without weakening the overall structure. (source) If you want a boxed cake mix to taste like a bakery cake or homemade then add an extra egg!
- Amp Up the Flavor
Chances are the vanilla might be a little blah in the cake mix, so for all cake mixes add a teaspoon of your favorite vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste or other extract; or try homemade bourbon vanilla!
In chocolate cake mix, add a teaspoon of espresso powder.
Lemon cake mix, add the zest from one lemon, za-zing!
Spice or Carrot Cake Mix, use fresh grated nutmeg (this microplane is the best), an extra teaspoon of cinnamon, definitely a teaspoon of vanilla or tablespoon of rum, brandy or whisky.
- Add Moisture
Add up to a cup of sour cream, plain greek yogurt or ¼ – ½ cup of creme fraiche. The richness, moisture it lends to a cake is amazing! You could even try a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, after all it’s just eggs and oil!
How to Doctor this Pumpkin Coffee Cake Recipe
- The first thing I did was add pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix), because it wouldn’t be very pumpkin-y without the pumpkin, ya know! I used a rounded ¾ cup of pumpkin. See below for how you can use leftover pumpkin puree.
- I added a total of 4 eggs, giving it more lift and more moisture.
- I used Greek yogurt, full fat, instead of sour cream, no big reason other than that’s what I had, both work interchangeably, just make sure you are not using a fat free product, they typically do not work well in baked goods.
- Added maple syrup to the glaze, giving it a decidedly fall maple-pumpkin flavor. Not overwhelming though.
For the Cake
- Cake Mix | I used a Spice cake mix, because I wanted it filled with warm spices, however; you could also use a white or yellow cake mix as well.
- Vegetable oil | I used avocado oil
- Eggs | I always use large eggs
- Greek yogurt | You can use sour cream too, please just don’t use fat free
- Pumpkin puree | Make sure it’s not pumpkin pie mix
- Pumpkin pie spice | don’t have any? Make your own in 5 minutes.
- Brown Sugar | Light or dark brown sugar will work fine. I used light.
- Pecans | or walnuts, or you can replace equal amounts of chocolate chips tossed in a teaspoon of flour.
- Cinnamon | you can never have too much cinnamon, well maybe but not in this case.
How Do You Make Pumpkin Coffee Cake
Spread half the batter into a sprayed 13×9″ baking pan. In a small bowl mix the brown sugar and chopped pecans together, the sprinkle evenly over top layer.
Spoon the rest of the batter over the top of the streusel and spread to cover the streusel. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Cake is ready once edges pull away slightly from edges and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, whisk together the maple glaze ingredients until smooth. Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the glaze evenly over the top. Cool completely on wire rack.
Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cake Mix or Bundt Cake
While I haven’t tried this personally, I do think based on similar recipes that making this in a bundt cake and cupcakes would work. Let me know if you try it!
- Bundt Cake | Process the recipe the same, spoon half batter into well sprayed bundt cake pan. Then sprinkle the brown sugar mixture, spreading remaining on top. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack and pour glaze over warm cake.
- Pumpkin Spice Muffins Cake Mix | Again, same as above in the mixing, spray and line with cupcake liners. Fill cupcake tins ⅔ full and sprinkle the brown sugar and pecan mixture on top. Add a dollop (about a tablespoon) of remaining batter on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18-20 minutes until tops spring back when lightly touched. Drizzle glaze over tops of warm cupcakes.
- Cake Pan | 13×9″ baking pan, this is my favorite brand, a lower price point. A prettier mid-range pan is this pretty Staub. The pan I baked this delicious cake in is a gorgeous Dansk pan . A gorgeous presentation.
- Mixer | You can easily make this cake with a hand mixer (I use this one) or a stand mixer.
- Mixing Bowl | Large or small or both depending on what kind of mixer you have!
- Spatula | this is my favorite brand, but any sturdy spatula will do!
- Off-set Spatula | These make spreading glazes and frostings so much easier!
- Mini Whisk | Not necessary but a little easier to handle in a small bowl.
Can I Freeze Leftover Pumpkin Puree
Yes! I would suggest you measure leftover canned pumpkin out first so you know how much you have, then place in airtight plastic container or baggie and write the portion amount on the outside. To use, simply thaw in fridge overnight or on counter until soft.
10 Ways to Use Leftover Canned Pumpkin Purée
- Save it for another baking project! Try these Maple Pumpkin Scones, or Pumpkin Bread with Browned Butter Maple Frosting.
- I love stirring pumpkin puree into chili. You can’t taste it and it adds great flavor, fiber and other good for you stuff!
- Make a pumpkin spice latte, yes, the famous PSL. This is especially a perfect use when you only have a few tablespoons leftover. Stir a tablespoon into hot espresso, add frothed milk, a little vanilla and a ¼ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Ta-da!
- Stir into oatmeal or other hot cereal, a couple of tablespoons with a little maple syrup and some pumpkin spices.
- Stir a few tablespoons into vanilla or plain yogurt and add some granola.
- Add to a curry. Pumpkin while flavorful and sometimes strong in flavor would blend beautifully with the turmeric and other spices in a curry.
- How about making pumpkin pancakes or waffles?
- Blend in a smoothie for a heart healthy fall smoothie!
- Make these amazing Copycat Panera Pumpkin Muffins.
- My favorite way? Make these awesome Copycat Noose Pumpkin Yogurts!
High Altitude Adjustments
My biggest suggestion when baking at altitude is to increase your oven temp by 25 degrees (or down if using a dark or glass pan) and bake 5-10 minutes less time.
Try these other great coffee cake recipes
- Eggnog Coffee Cake (Overnight option!)
- Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake
- Blueberry Pancake Bundt Cake Recipe
- Cranberry Christmas Cake
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About Kathleen Pope
Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer
Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.