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Banner image with photos of pumpkin coffee cake in parchment lined pan, a freshly baked and cut piece on a plate and another piece near a chemex filled halfway with coffee

Sourdough Pumpkin Coffee Cake

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As the air grows crisp and pumpkins start appearing everywhere, we’re diving headfirst into the flavors of autumn. Join us in welcoming this wonderful season with a slice of our homemade Sourdough Pumpkin Coffee Cake. This satisfying treat embodies the essence of fall, combining the comforting taste of pumpkin with warm inviting spices. This cake has become a beloved staple in our kitchen. We love waking up to the warm aromas and enjoying a slice as we get ready to tackle our day. And don’t worry, if you don’t have sourdough starter, you can still make this cake!

A Little About Pumpkin Coffee Cake Ingredients

Pumpkin Puree

At the end of last fall, we gathered a few of our decorative pie pumpkins and roasted them. They produced a plethora of pumpkin puree that we froze and are still enjoying. We use the pumpkin for smoothies, muffins, pie, and of course this coffee cake. Once the pumpkin is roasted and ready, we freeze one cup of puree to one freezer bag so we have small amounts on hand whenever we have a whim for pumpkin. As a result, it is so easy to pop a bag from the freezer, break off a piece and leave it on the counter to defrost for a bit. This is one reason why the pumpkin coffee cake recipe below is so quick and convenient for us to make. Of course, you can always substitute canned pumpkin if you don’t have any fresh.

Whole Grains & Healthy Fats

Since this recipe contains so much moisture with pumpkin, oil and yogurt — it is great for incorporating whole grains. Given that whole grains absorb more moisture than ‘white’ flour, the freshly ground soft wheat and oats are perfect vehicles to contrast the extra moisture in the cake. The earthy flavor of the grains adds more depth to the coffee cake as well. Of course, you can always substitute what you have on hand and still come out with a delectable treat as well. If using all purpose, keep in mind you may need to add in a bit extra if your batter is too soupy.

Sourdough Starter

We try to use our sourdough starter weekly. This recipe allows us to concurrently feed our sourdough starter and create a levain or two in the process. A levain is a derivative or piece of sourdough starter mixed with more flour and water. As a result, the levain is created to ferment, double and be utilized to make leavened bread. We either make the levain for this recipe the night before as we are also feeding our starter, or the morning of, depending upon when we want to make the coffee cake.

Of course if you have enough discard, discard could be used in this recipe as well without issue as there are other leavining agents in the coffee cake. And if you do not have sourdough starter and still want to make this pumpkin coffee cake — feel free to substitute equal amounts flour and water. Also, if you like to long ferment your grains for digestibility purposes, this recipe works well with long fermentation.

Streusel Topping for Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Let’s now talk about compiling this recipe. Getting the streusel topping ready first helps you commit to making it. Yes, you can omit the topping altogether and still have a yummy pumpkin coffee cake. But the topping adds so much flavor and texture! The streusel topping is what takes our Sourdough Pumpkin Coffee Cake to the next level. So make it first.

Here are some tips to ensure your streusel topping turns out just right:

  1. Use Cold Butter: Start with cold butter, and cut it into small cubes. Incorporating cold butter into the dry ingredients creates those sought-after crumbles.
  2. Work Quickly: When mixing the streusel, work swiftly and gently. Don’t over-mix it; you want to maintain those delightful, pea-sized buttery bits.
  3. Variety of Textures: Experiment with different nuts, like pecans or walnuts for added crunch, and/or oats for a heartier texture. We like both. The options are endless.
  4. Brown Sugar Magic: Brown sugar not only sweetens the streusel but adds moisture, contributing to its signature crumbliness.
  5. Customize the Spice: Adjust the level of cinnamon or other spices to suit your taste. A touch of cinnamon complements the pumpkin flavor beautifully. Or you could also use more pumpkin spice here.
Photo of glass bowl on top of kitchen scale with streusel ingredients ready to be combined: flour, brown sugar, pecans and diced butter on top
streusel ingredients ready to be combined: flour, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and diced butter
Photo of glass bowl on top of scale with streusel ingredients combined and ready: brown sugar, oats, butter, pecans, flour and cinnamon
streusel ingredients combined and ready for topping

Mixing the Pumpkin Batter

After making and setting aside the streusel mixture, turn your focus to the wet ingredients. Use a whisk to blend the pumpkin puree with the brown sugar and then add an egg whisk thoroughly. Next, add vanilla, oil and yogurt. Finally blend the sourdough starter gently into the other wet ingredients and set aside.

Photo of 8 cup glass measuring bowl on top scale with pumpkin puree and brown sugar ready to be mixed
pumpkin puree and brown sugar ready to be mixed
Photo of 8 cup glass measuring bowl on top scale with one raw egg on top pumpkin sugar mixture ready for blending
egg on top pumpkin sugar mixture ready for blending
Photo of 8 cup glass measuring bowl on top scale with wet ingredients and sourdough starter ready to blend together
wet ingredients and sourdough starter ready to blend together

Now it’s time to weigh and measure your dry ingredients into another bowl. Carefully stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Be careful not to overmix; a few lumps are perfectly fine. Overmixing can result in a tougher cake.

Photo of glass bowl on top kitchen scale with soft wheat flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice
soft wheat flour, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice
Photo of large Pyrex glass measuring cup on top kitchen scale with dry ingredients on top of wet pumpkin mixture, next to Weck container of yogurt and narrow glass jar of olive oil
dry ingredients ready to fold into wet ingredients

An Option to Long Ferment – The Benefits Explained

Long fermentation is a technique to ferment and develop flavors over an extended period, typically hours or even days. This patient approach offers several notable advantages when crafting sourdough bread and other baked goods:

Photo of large glass Pyrex measuring cup with a top down view of pumpkin coffee cake batter
pumpkin sourdough coffee cake batter ready to ferment
  1. Enhanced Flavor Profile: Long fermentation gives dough ample time to develop complex and nuanced flavors. As the natural yeasts and bacteria in the sourdough starter work their magic, they produce flavorful compounds like lactic acid and acetic acid, resulting in a rich, tangy taste that’s unique to sourdough.
  2. Improved Digestibility: The lengthy fermentation process also contributes to improved digestibility. It breaks down gluten and phytic acid, making nutrients more accessible and reducing the likelihood of digestive discomfort for those with sensitivities.
  3. Better Texture: Extended fermentation promotes better dough structure and a desirable crumb texture. It allows for the development of a light, airy interior with a crisp, flavorful crust, which is a hallmark of artisanal sourdough bread. Or in this instance a nice fluffy cake crumb.
  4. Natural Preservation: Long fermentation acts as a natural preservative. The acidic environment created by the sourdough culture helps inhibit the growth of harmful microbes, extending the shelf life of the bread without the need for artificial additives.
  5. Healthier Option: Sourdough bread made through long fermentation often has a lower glycemic index compared to commercially produced bread, which can help regulate blood sugar levels more effectively.

Choose Fermentation Based on Your Needs or Schedule

When we ferment this cake, we choose to do so based on our schedule that day. If there is time, then we will ferment for a few hours on the countertop and then move the dough into the refrigerator overnight to cold ferment until morning. Cold fermentation is just a slower fermentation. Sometimes it can make doughs tangier, but between the yogurt and spices, it compliments this batter well. The batter can be pulled out from the fridge while the oven preheats and it’s ready to bake without coming to room temp.

This pumpkin coffee cake is great with or without fermentation. You decide!

Baking our Sourdough Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Once you are ready to bake, preheat your oven and line your 8×8 pan with parchment. You can either layer the batter with the streusel, or, as we like to do, just sprinkle the streusel straight on top. Make sure you use a proper baking time and temperature for a moist, fluffy cake and check for doneness with a toothpick when the cake comes of out the oven.

photo of Pumpkin Sourdough Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping fresh out oven in pan lined with parchment with two slices missing
pumpkin sourdough coffee cake

Serving and Enjoying Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Ideas for Plating

  1. Warm and Fresh: For the ultimate enjoyment, serve your coffee cake while it’s still warm from the oven. The enticing aroma will draw everyone to the kitchen, and the tender crumb will practically melt in your mouth.
  2. A Dollop of Whipped Cream: Add a dollop of freshly whipped cream on top of each slice. The creamy richness beautifully complements the pumpkin’s earthy sweetness and the cake’s delightful crumb.
  3. Drizzle of Chocolate Sauce: If you are into the pumpkin chocolate thing, drizzle a bit of chocolate sauce over and around the cake. It’s not only visually appealing but also enhances the sweet and tangyness of the cake.

Pairing with Beverages

Photo of background of freshly brewed coffee in a chemex and in the front a large piece of pumpkin sourdough coffee cake on a plate
  1. Coffee: As the name suggests, this coffee cake is a perfect companion for your morning brew. Whether you prefer a bold espresso, a smooth latte, or a simple black coffee, the pairing is a great match.
  2. Tea Time Treat: Opt for a fragrant cup of herbal tea or a classic Earl Grey with milk. The subtle notes of tea enhance the cake’s flavor profile without overpowering it.
  3. Milk/Eggnog or Hot Chocolate: Kids and adults alike will appreciate a glass of cold milk or eggnog or a steaming mug of hot chocolate alongside their slice of cake. The contrast of temperatures and textures is soothing.
  4. Seasonal Spice: Embrace the flavors of the season with a warm mug of spiced apple cider or chai. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in the cider complement the cake’s pumpkin and spice notes.
  5. Pumpkin Spice Latte: If you’re feeling extra indulgent, go broke with a pumpkin spice latte.

Don’t let Pumpkin Season Pass You By

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to bake up a slice of homemade, warm and spicy comfort. Give it a try, and please share your results with us. Happy baking!

Photo of a piece of moist sourdough pumpkin coffee cake with pecan streusel topping

Sourdough Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Indulge in warm, comforting flavors of fall with our Sourdough Pumpkin Coffee Cake. This tender and moist cake features the rich essence of pumpkin and a heavenly pecan streusel topping. It's the perfect healthy, wholesome treat for cozy mornings or any time you crave a slice of autumn goodness.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Keyword: healthy, high fiber, pumpkin, sourdough
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 150kcal
Author: juiceofsevenlemons
Cost: $2


  • 1 8×8 baking dish


Streusel Topping

  • 30 grams butter 3 tablespoons
  • 30 grams pecans chopped
  • 20 grams all purpose flour 1 /12 tablespoons
  • 25 grams rolled oats 3 tablespoons
  • 30 grams brown sugar 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dry Ingredients

  • 110 grams soft white wheat flour fresh ground, 3/4 cup (sub wheat pastry flour or all purpose)
  • 35 grams rolled oats 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Wet Ingredients

  • 112 grams pumpkin puree 1/2 cup
  • 70 grams brown sugar 1/2 cup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 grams pure olive oil 3 tablespoons
  • 20 grams full fat yogurt 2 tablespoons
  • 175 grams active sourdough starter 1 cup, (sub half flour half water if not using sourdough)
Makes: 8 x 8inch rectangle2inch height


Streusel Topping:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine chopped pecans, all-purpose flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
  • Add diced softened butter to the mixture.
  • Use a fork or your fingers to blend the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly. Set the streusel topping aside.

Cake Batter:

  • In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well and set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, brown sugar, 1 egg, vanilla extract, olive oil, and yogurt until well combined.
  • Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.
  • Finally, fold in active sourdough starter until the batter is smooth and well mixed.
  • If you'd like to ferment, leave the batter covered on your counter a few hours and place it in the refrigerator to cold ferment overnight. (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for a convection oven or 400 degrees Fahrenheit for a conventional oven.
  • Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang for easy removal.
  • Pour the prepared cake batter into the pan and spread it evenly.
  • Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the cake batter.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (convection) or 25-30 minutes (conventional) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Once done, remove the coffee cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for a few minutes.
  • Use the parchment paper overhang to lift the cake out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.


  • Fresh Ground Flour: Using freshly ground soft white wheat flour (or wheat pastry flour) can enhance the nutty and whole-grain flavor of the cake. However, you can also use all-purpose flour as a convenient alternative.
  • Pumpkin Puree: Ensure the pumpkin puree is at room temperature for even mixing. You can use canned or homemade puree.
  • Active Sourdough Starter: You can use active or discard for this recipe.
  • Baking Temperature: Adjust the baking time and temperature according to your specific oven. Keep an eye on the cake as it bakes to prevent overcooking. The cake is done when a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
  • Storing the Cake: Once cooled, store the cake in an airtight container at in the. It’s best enjoyed within a few days, or you can refrigerate it for longer freshness.
  • Variations: Feel free to customize the cake by adding your favorite mix-ins, such as chocolate chips, dried fruit, or additional nuts, to the batter.
  • Pairing: This coffee cake pairs wonderfully with a cup of hot coffee, a warm mug of spiced chai, or a refreshing glass of cold milk.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 150kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 500IU | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

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