pumpkin spice-1

IT'S SEPTEMBER. Where has this year gone? Actually, with all the stuff that has happened this year, I'm completely ready for a new year, so it's really okay with me if this year keeps speeding by.

Because it is now September, I can declare it officially PUMPKIN SEASON! It's perfectly acceptable to make all the pumpkin goodies now! Pumpkin season is my favorite. Fall is the best season, and I wish it would just show up already. Parts of the country are already having fall-ish weather, and we're just over here with all this mid/upper 80's and gross humidity nonsense. It's like Chicago is resisting a weather change because according to the farmer's almanac, we're going to get majorly shit on by winter. Is the farmer's almanac accurate? I don't even care. Cooler weather now please!

With all the "controversy" (don't we have better things to obsess over these days? Read the news.) around the Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte...carcinogens, caramel coloring, no real pumpkin, blah blah blah...I thought it might be pertinent to share an important bit of information with you:

You can make your own pumpkin spice syrup!

And it is obscenely easy.
And it is delicious.
And it will save you a boatload of money.

Maybe if you give less of your money to Starbucks, you can spend more money on pumpkins. Or pumpkin beer. Or something else cooler than a $5 latte.

If you feel so inclined, you could dial back the pumpkin a bit. You can adjust the spices to your liking, too, if you want more/less of something. It's adaptable. I also imagine you could use pumpkin pie spice instead of all the spices separately, but I'm not sure how the spice ratio stacks up there. I think it'd be worth a shot, though.


Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup

recipe adapted from Cynthia over at Two Red Bowls

makes one pint.

1 ½ cups water
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
a scant ½ tsp ground cloves (shoot for closer to 1/3 tsp)


  1. Combine water and sugars in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugars dissolve, then turn heat to low.
  2. Whisk in pumpkin and spices until smooth. Simmer for 10 minutes (but don’t let it boil!).
  3. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove cinnamon stick.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  6. Use as desired in coffee, tea, etc. I usually use 1-2 TB per cup of coffee.
  7. According to my calculations (nerd alert), the homemade syrup is about 36 calories per tablespoon. A 16oz PSL with 2% milk and NO whipped cream at Starbucks clocks in at 310 calories (according to their website). I'd be willing to guess that most of those calories are NOT coming from the milk. So there’s that.

Yeasted Coffee Cake

coffee cake 1

I know I've written about different kinds of coffee cake at least a few times before, but this one deserves mentioning, too. It's yeasted. Yeasted! It's almost like a danish and a loaf of bread got busy while nobody was looking, and nine months later...ta-da! Yeasted coffee cake.

Actually, I imagine the gestation period for a danish/bread lovechild is probably more like a few hours instead of nine months. All it needs is a little time to rise, right?

I ended up making this coffee cake twice in a week, mostly because it really is that good and also because I brought one of those cakes to work for a student-worker's last day in the office.

The one pictured here is from the first time I made it -- that time, I royally screwed up the recipe (I forgot to add the sugar and had to knead it in at the end. BAD IDEA.) but it still turned out great. I also decided to swirl my jam of choice into the dough, instead of just slathering it on top of the cake. I ended up using Kaya, which is basically a pandan-coconut jam/curd type of spread typically found in Asia (mine is directly from Singapore, but Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines have versions of it as well). If you ever have the opportunity, try some. It's some seriously amazing stuff.

coffee cake 3

The second time I made this cake, I used blackberry jam and added some extra spices (ginger and cinnamon). I also omitted the coconut from the streusel, and replaced it with some chopped nuts. And I didn't swirl the jam into the dough, I just spread it on top like the original recipe suggests.

It was great both ways, and is obviously a pretty adaptable coffee cake. You could add chocolate chips or citrus zest to the dough, change the streusel mixture, change the jam flavor, and change the spice profile, and still end up with a killer coffee cake.

coffee cake 2

Yeasted Coffee Cake

recipe adapted from Red Star Yeast
click here for a printable PDF of this recipe!

For the cake:
1 ¾ cups bread flour
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (I used instant)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp spices of your choosing (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, etc)
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
2 TB unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup jam/preserves

For the streusel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup flaked or shredded coconut (or, replace with nuts, or leave it out altogether)
1/2 tsp ground spice of your choosing
2 TB unsalted butter, melted


  1. Butter or grease your 8x8 or 9x9 pan. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer , combine 1 cup bread flour, sugar, spices, and salt. Stir to combine. 
  3. In a saucepan or in a microwave-safe dish, heat milk, water, and butter until warm (115F to 130F). 
  4. Add milk/water/butter mixture to mixer bowl. Mix briefly to combine. 
  5. Add egg and vanilla. Mix on low speed for a few seconds to incorporate, and then beat for about 3 minutes on medium speed.
  6. Gradually incorporate remaining bread flour – you should end up with a stiff batter.
  7. Spread in prepared pan.
  8. Prepare streusel by combining all listed ingredients. Set aside.
  9. Spread jam/preserves on top of batter, and then cover with streusel.
  10. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes (or until doubled in size).
  11. While cake is rising, preheat your oven to 350F.
  12. Once cake has finished rising, bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

ranunculus 1