Gluten-Free Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Gluten free pumpkin crumb cake
A light, pumpkin coffee cake for your holiday brunch.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Coffee Cake

The Winter Solstice will be here soon. The holiday frenzy of gift buying and light stringing and cookie making is officially upon us. Everywhere I cast my gaze I am pummeled with messages. SHOP! BAKE! SPARKLE!

And that's okay.

Because I understand the hoopla. I know where this urge comes from. The itch to make a ruckus in the dark. To sing, brave and clear, cupping our tiny flames against Midwinter's long night.

The California sun hangs soft and low in the sky, as pale as ice cream. Hours feel clipped. Afternoons are shorter and shorter. Night creeps ever closer. Darkness will soon reign over light.

But only for a moment. One single, solitary, longest night of the year.

No wonder we gather to celebrate. The rebirth of light is no small thing. And a brand new year awaits. Front loaded with promise, and changes hoped for.

I had hoped to finally conquer gluten-free sugar cookies. But after tasting more than one middling batch (I also have to bake without butter, remember) I became more interested in reading a new book than wrestling with sugar cookie dough. Yes, I miss rolling out sugar cookies. And yes, I would be (more than!) thrilled to sign on here today and boast about the best gluten-free sugar cookie ever. But. It's not gonna happen. This week anyway.

I had two sad, cracked (and complaining) teeth yanked this week. (Celiac disease is not kind to teeth and bones. My childhood was riddled with amalgam and the torture inducing whine of belt-driven drills, cementing a lifelong terror of dentists.)

So that gave me the perfect excuse to nap. And read in bed.

I am reading Carolyn G. Heilbrun- The Last Gift of Time. I read a chapter on memory- and the seduction of nostalgia (a favorite subject of mine, you may remember). And I read this...

"Every time those of us in our last decades allow a memory to occur, we forget to look at what is in front of us, at the new ideas and pleasures we might, if firmly in the present, encounter and enjoy."

Carolyn (in her seventies when she wrote this book) urges us to stay present in the here and now as we age, and not drift into the mental trap of nostalgia and memories. I wholeheartedly agree. I love learning something new- every day- turning not to an assumption, a belief or a habit, but toward the thrill of a new skill, and new technologies (iphoneography is a new passion of mine- an art form in its infancy). Keeping myself open, engaged in the here and now means keeping things fresh. Letting go of the old, the stale past, the so-called good old days. Because as good as they were, they are not now. And as bad as some days may have been, today can be different.

Now is new.

And in this spirit, Steve and I baked a pumpkin crumb cake instead of recreating cookies. A new Christmas tradition, perhaps? Why not?

Cake for breakfast.


Gluten free pumpkin coffee cake with streusel crumb topping
I hope you're not sick of my pumpkin recipes. Because this one's tasty.

Karina's Wheat-Free Gluten-Free Pumpkin Crumb Cake Recipe

Originally published December 2011.

This pumpkin flavored coffee cake is light and tender, topped with a cinnamon laced streusel crumb topping. A perfect cake to bake the night before Christmas. It is also divine served warm from the oven.


1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
1 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour
3/4 cup almond or hazelnut flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 large organic free-range eggs, beaten
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract

For streusel topping:

1/3 cup organic light brown sugar
3 tablespoons brown rice flour or sorghum flour
3 tablespoons organic coconut oil
2-3 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans (may omit)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9-inch deep cake pan or baking dish with a piece of parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine the dry ingredients: light brown sugar, brown rice or sorghum flour, almond or hazelnut flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Add in the pumpkin, beaten eggs, coconut oil, vanilla extract. Beat to combine.

The batter at this point will be smooth and sticky, and not too thin. Humidity affects flours, so you may need more liquid, depending upon your locale. If so, add 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk.

Scoop the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth it out to the edges. Use wet hands if you need to.

Make the streusel topping, combining the brown sugar, brown rice or sorghum flour, coconut oil, chopped walnuts or pecans (if using), and cinnamon. Mix until sandy.

Spread the streusel topping on the cake. Lightly press down to even it out.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 40 minutes, then loosely tent a piece of foil over the top to prevent the streusel from browning too much. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the center of the cake is firm and a wooden pick inserted into the center emerges clean.

Cool the coffee cake on a wire rack.

Delicious served slightly warm.

May be baked the night before, cooled, and wrapped for the next morning. Slice, wrap in foil, and freeze uneaten cake slices in a freezer bag.

Cook time: 55 minutes Yield: 10-12 slices

Recipe Source:

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Enjoy sugary treats in moderation. 
Gluten-Free Goddess advises consuming no more 
than 2 tablespoons of sugar a day.

A slice of gluten free pumpkin crumb cake
This slice of pumpkin crumb cake is missing a bite. Well, two.

Recipe Notes:

The pumpkin and the eggs are the moisture in this cake recipe. It is not a thin batter, in fact it resembles muffin batter more than standard cake batter. If your better ends up too stiff because you live in a drier climate, you may add a tablespoon or two of soy milk or rice milk.

I made this cake with fresh organic eggs, but I have always had wonderful luck baking with Ener-G Egg Replacer (mix up the equivalent of three eggs).

I am experimenting with a blend of starches now, so I used a blend of tapioca starch and cornstarch. I think it created a lighter cake.

This is a gluten-free and dairy-free recipe.


gfe--gluten free easily said...

Love all of this, Karina. Well, except that you've been having dental issues ... aaargh, so sorry!

Thank you for this beautiful recipe and the book recommendation! I'm intrigued by the latter.

Wishing you the loveliest of holidays, my dear! xo,

Carrie said...


I don't use nut flours at all given a child with a nut allergy. Do you think it would work if I used a combination of sorghum and rice flours?

Karina Allrich said...

Thank you, Shirley! Wishing you a lovely holiday season, too. xox

Carrie, I bake with and without nut flours in my blend. There is a difference, but both ways are tender... I think sorghum would be the best choice.

Katy said...

Thank you for solving my leftover-pumpkin-puree problem :)
This looks delicious! The perfect Christmas breakfast. And I know that my father, at least, would prefer crumb cake to sugar cookies any day.

Madeline said...

Recipe looks wonderful and thanks for your blog. Staying in the present and being open to new ideas is important...and not to get stagnant and cling too much to the past and the way things were always done or the way things always were. Sometimes those around us though will be unhappy with this... Question about the recipe, if I substituted allspice for the nutmeg, what do you think? I am not a nutmeg fan. Many thanks.

Madeline said...

OOPS, Karina, just noticed your comment about not advising substitutions!!!

Jeanette said...

I am with you all the Karina - this Pumpkin Crumb Cake sounds fabulous. Instead of baking gingerbread cookies, I made GF gingerbread muffins - same spice flavors in a different form.

tinkey said...

Karina, I received an email from "Living Without" magazine with a recipe for "melt in your mouth sugar cookies" that do not contain butter. My daughter and I whipped them up last night and they are awesome. They were more crunchy sugar cookies but we put icing on them and stored them in Tupperware over night and this morning they were soft and chewy. They tasted great and had a great texture. My daughter thought they were identical to bakery sugar cookies. I used Red Mill GF flour in exchange for their flour recipe but used every other ingredient listed. WOW my new sugar cookie for life.

hungrygems said...

For a lady who can show restraint around anything except a moist, crumble topped holiday cake, you have unleashed a beast Ms. Karina. This looks irresistible!

AikoVenus said...

This looks so moist and mouthwateringly good - I love crumb cake! ^^ I need to try this for Christmas brunch.

Melaina said...

This looks absolutely delicious! I'm wondering if there is a way to make it as muffins or perhaps in mini bread pans?? There is only 3 of us in our house and I am the primary eater of the "allergy free" things... Any suggestions for how to cut the recipe??


Kalyn said...

I'm glad to hear you have made it through the dreaded dental visit. Just ordered the book and cannot wait to read it. (And another gorgeous recipe and beautifully-written post.)

Shelly @A Creative Space said...

Oh, how wonderful this sounds!! It is a good way to use up the pumpkins that I still have to cook!
Thank you for sharing this. :) said...

I could never be sick of all your pumpkin recipes! This looks lovely, and I especially love your insight regarding the holiday frenzy. It's hard for me to not feel jaded about it all. We are trying all the time to make some new traditions that work better for our family, because I start to feel burnt out on all the shop, buy, sparkle stuff. I never seem to feel burnt out on baking. :)

Kathleen Richardson said...

Another winner. No wonder I recommend your blog more than any other.

QueenAsha said...

Made this recipe. Put them in muffin tins so that I could share. HOW WONDERFUL! The cake was moist and the topping was delightful. I substituted butter for coconut oil because that's what I had in my house, it's cold outside, and I couldn't wait to get these in my face. Great job!

celine said...

made it last night! was perfect!!!! even used egg replacer.

ahhh... cake!
thank you!

Sirena Varada said...

Just a quick question since i discovered your blog I realiced that you use a lot of sorghum flour but I could not find it anywhere in Spain I even looked online with no luck...Any other options to this flour?

Karina Allrich said...

As I mention in the recipe, brown rice flour is a good sub for sorghum flour. Sorghum is also known as jowar (or sweet jowar) flour. I also think gluten-free oat flour will work.

Ridgely's Radar said...


Beckyg said...

Made this for a group of gluten-eaters and it was a HUGE success!! Thanks for your awesome recipes and clear directions!!

Anonymous said...

Great this cake rocks!

My Casa Bella said...

I was searching the web for a GF crumb cake because I've been craving it and came across this recipe and CANNOT wait to make it, I LOVE LOVE anything with pumpkin in it!

kate said...

with a recommendation of 2T of sugar a day, how much of this cake could I eat? It seems to have lots and lots of brown sugar in it.
Thanks in advance,

Karina Allrich said...

Kate- That's a conservative guideline, posted to make us think about how much sugar we are eating daily; it usually equals one small to modest serving of dessert. You'll need to divide 2 TB into 1 2/3 cup to get an idea about this cake. I usually get ten slices from a cake this size... but that may or not equal 2 TB of sugar, exactly. Most people consume excess daily sugar via soda, coffee drinks and fruit drinks.

Karina Allrich said...

PS_ Also- if you would prefer less sugar, don't add the crumb topping. Cheers- Karina

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