Spicing up your life + pumpkin coffee cake

It's October, and I have succumbed... I am so into pumpkin spice EVERYTHING lately! And Trader Joe's has been seriously hooking me up (per usual). I also love using straight up pumpkin from the can in my cooking and baking. Pumpkin is a starchy vegetable that is chock full of beta-carotene (your body converts this to Vitamin A) and fiber; so naturally, I'm a fan of adding it in wherever you find it tasty!

Another product I love from TJ's (I swear they don't pay me to do this... but, I mean if they ever offer to...) is their multigrain baking mix. It is so versatile! It has recipes on the side of the box for pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and blueberry coffee cake. The mix seems to be about 1/2 whole grains +1/2 white flour; the perfect ratio for optimal taste and texture plus some added micronutrients and fiber.

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I got to thinking, what if I made a few substitutions, and baked pumpkin coffee cake instead of blueberry? Substitutions and add-ins are my jam; I find it to be one of the best ways to get creative in the kitchen and seriously spice up my food life without breaking the bank.

How do I do that??

The first step is to start with the basics; what do you already know how to make? What do you think you might have ingredients for? Next, what could you throw in to make it not-so-basic, add some nutritional value, and generally just make it yummier? Some examples have been adding veggies to boxed mac-n-cheese or a can of soup, throwing blueberries in my cereal, experimenting with herbs in my rice, and roasting pans of sweet potatoes to add into my meals as a starch throughout the week.

Substitutions also give you the option of baking or cooking when you think you don't have the ingredients for something, or want to make something fit your dietary/food allergy needs. Google is an endless resource for creative substitutions! The TJ's recipe for coffee cake called for buttermilk (which is basically cultured milk), and of course I don't have any lying around because this isn't 1955. I did have whole milk and Siggi's whole milk plain yogurt. I mixed the two together, and voila! The perfect substitution.

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Moral of the story is, don't be afraid to spice up your life by using what you've already got. New ingredients are awesome, but who actually has time to go grocery shopping every time they want to make a meal or bake something fun?

Anyways, moving on with this recipe. I followed the general directions on the box, but my substitutions started with subbing a pumpkin spice mixture for the blueberries. I stirred together 1 can pumpkin, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1/2 cup brown sugar.

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I set this aside, and prepared the batter: whisk together my buttermilk substitution of 1/2 c plain yogurt + 1/2 c whole milk, 1 egg, and 3 T oil. I then whisked in half the pumpkin mixture.

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I then added 2 1/2 cups baking mix and 1/2 cup brown sugar (the box said to use white sugar, but I didn't have any and thought brown sugar might taste good).

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After combining this well (don't over-mix it, the batter will be slightly lumpy), I swirled in the remaining pumpkin mixture.

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This all went into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish and into the oven at 350 F for 45 min.

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It came out looking glorious!

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Enjoy this pumpkin goodness in the morning with a big mug of coffee :)

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

This warm, wholegrain & pumpkin breakfast treat will add some serious spice to your fall morning.

Makes: 9-16 servings

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1 cup brown sugar (split into 2 half cups)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk, or 1/2 cup whole milk + 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 2 1/2 cups Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking & Pancake Mix

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together pumpkin, 1/2 c brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk or yogurt + milk, egg and oil. Whisk in half the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Add Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking & Pancake Mix. Stir until well incorporated. Batter may be slightly lumpy; do not over mix.
  5. Swirl in the remaining pumpkin mixture so streaks are still visible.
  6. Transfer to the baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for as long as you can be patient, and cut into squares. Enjoy!