For those of you that may not be aware, pumpkin and rosemary are two of my favorite things on the planet earth. I’ll come up with any excuse to use them in whatever I can, at any given moment. Rosemary is one of those things that I debate buying every time I’m at the grocery store, because I must have it on hand at all times, but nearly every block of Portland has at least one rosemary bush that is too plentiful to not be picked. One of the main reasons I look forward to eventually owning my own home is so that I can grow an herb garden and never have to worry about it. Rosemary shortage is never a good thing.
Since it is not (yet) officially Fall, I felt a little overly ambitious and embarrassed baking this coffee cake last weekend. I love pumpkin so, so much that I just can’t contain my excitement and leave those cans of pumpkin puree in the cabinets untouched. But really, I have no shame in admitting my love for pumpkin and Fall. The leaves really are starting to change color and clutter the sidewalks, so I think it’s safe to say I am within the accepted guidelines. Looking to make something specifically squashy, I turned to my trusty Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash book (how crazy is it that Amazon remembers I bought this book six years ago?!) and opened right up to a Rosemary-Polenta Pumpkin Muffin recipe. I can’t believe I hadn’t yet made them before, but I wasn’t really feeling the muffin thing in that moment for some reason. So I opted for coffeecake, because coffeecake is the answer for everything.
It is pretty easy to convert most muffin recipes to coffee cake just by adding a streusel topping to the batter. That sweet, salty, cinnamon-y goodness is probably my favorite component of the coffeecake business. Just like the glistening, crusty-baked muffin top is my favorite component of the muffin business. I could eat just the toppings off and be a happy camper. But this particular pumpkin cake will make you want to eat the insides also. The combination of the rosemary, lemon zest, olive oil, polenta, pumpkin and warming spices is beyond anything you have ever tasted, I can assure you. I’d like to think of it as a classic Italian grandmother’s pumpkin cake recipe. And most importantly, it is a super straight-forward recipe that you can make for any autumn occasion that you and your friends will absolutely love. I had about 8 taste testers and all approved with the thumbs up!
ROSEMARY-POLENTA PUMPKIN COFFEECAKE
Adapted from Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash
- 1/4 cup minced, fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 2 cups powdered sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
- 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup polenta or cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- For the crumble topping:
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9″ springform cake pan with baking spray oil, and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the rosemary and lemon zest, and mash together with 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar. In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cups of powdered sugar, flour, polenta, baking powder, spices, and salt. Add the eggs and rosemary mixture. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat until blended. Slowly pour in the oil, beating until smooth. Add the pumpkin and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes longer.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan. Now prepare your crumble topping.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter, and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs (I used my fingers). Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly, then remove from the springform pan. Store in an airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.