Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Coffee & Spice Pumpkin Cake with Coffee Caramel

Last Sunday I wanted to bake a cake. I’ve had this idea bouncing around in my head for a few days, since my sister mentioned it. Pumpkin and coffee and spice, like that famous latte. I made my way to the store, bought everything I needed and then sat down in front of my computer to try and work out the particulars of the recipe. I typed “Pumpkin Cake” and then closed my laptop.


Last fall I was walking through the grocery store when I saw a bottle of ginger beer. It’s label was bright orange with beautiful calligraphy. I put it in my cart and started formulating ideas. I could reduce it down and make a glaze! I could add some to a pot of soup and see how that would taste.

By the time I got home I’d talked myself out of creating anything new with that ginger beer. I stuck in a cabinet and forgot about it.

So goes the last 3 years of my life.


This is scary to talk about and it makes me feel vulnerable but here's the thing: I want to bake stuff and I want to share it again. So I need to share this first. The last three-nearly-four years have been thread through with anxiety and depression and grief.  It stripped me of my ability to create and some days even my ability to think clearly. It's darn near impossible for me to work up the energy to artfully drizzle caramel and photograph it when I feel bad. Lately though, the urge to return to this space has been stronger than ever.


I woke up this morning thinking about that cake again. I wanted to bake it and photograph it and share it with y’all. I started talking myself out of it again. No one reads blogs anymore! What if your pictures suck? Maybe you should just go back to bed. But I didn’t! I tied on my apron and got to work. I cut my finger twice on the can of pumpkin and I spilled sugar all over my kitchen floor but I baked this cake and it’s delicious. That feels a bit like a victory. They say you can't go home again but maybe you can blog again. I want to talk to you about recipes and the seasons and (feeling like) failing at being a cookbook author and plenty of other stuff. First, let's talk about this cake in particular.


It's a play on that old favorite, the pumpkin spice latte. I put some espresso powder in with the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and I made a coffee caramel sauce that I want to pour on absolutely everything from now on. I baked it in my fancy swirl bundt pan but I think it would make a really great layer cake frosted with spiced cream cheese and drizzled with the sauce too. 

Coffee & Spice Pumpkin Cake with Coffee Caramel Sauce

For the cake:  
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10 cup bundt pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, baking powder, salt and spices.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, vegetable oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.

Pour mixture into greased bundt pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely.

While the cake is baking, make the coffee caramel sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
a pinch of salt

Warm the heavy cream slightly and stir in the espresso powder. Set aside.

In a heavy sauce pan, stir together the sugar and water. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring and bring to a boil. Allow to boil until it turns amber in color. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the warmed cream, stirring as you do. Be careful, it will bubble up! Stir in the butter until melted. Allow to cool slightly and pour over cake.


  1. Hannah, you don't know me, but I loved your blog, own your magical cookbook, and you were one of my first follows on Instagram (your housedreamingstories are my favorite <3). I remember when you shared of your mom's passing, and I grieved with you (insomuch as a stranger can). I just wanted to affirm that people still read blogs, and that you still create beautiful, honest photos and stories and recipes that are worth sharing. It's incredibly brave of you to be vulnerable (and it's okay if this is your only post for the next three years--although I hope it's not!). Thank you for being a light!

  2. Still reading blogs, still beautiful photos, and still, the perfect seasonal treats! Thanks for taking the time and effort to share with the world.

  3. This makes me so, so happy. I loved reading this and your photos are beautiful and I definitely want to make this cake. :):):)

  4. I kid you not, I came across your blog only an hour ago. I thought "huh, this looks like a pretty cool blog" not even looking at the dates of your posts. I then went to twitter and followed you, when I get this tweet that you had blogged. I came back on over and saw a new post and realized that your other posts were from 2015. I wanted to tell you that I'm so happy that you shared it with us. I have dealt with anxiety too, and I think it's really brave of you to open up. I think this cake looks amazing, and even if someone doesn't like it, you still liked it and it made you happy and there are other people out there who will feel the same. The internet breeds an idea of perfection, but nobody is perfect. You are amazing, this cake is amazing, and thank you for sharing!

    the french press | https://sarahfrenchpress.blogspot.com

  5. Dear Hannah,

    I am a follower of yours on Instagram and found you through another lovely blog...which yes, I do still read. {{smiles}} They are still a favorite of mine! Your blog is a delightful place and I'm so happy that you've decided to pop back in...I, too, share your love for baking, but I also share your struggle with anxiety and depression. I don't know all that you've gone through, as our journeys are different, but I can understand. Take your time getting back into blogging...whether or not you post frequently, whether or not you think what you've shared is sufficient...whatever doubt is swirling in your mind, know that there are people who want to read your blog and who find inspiration in your sharing. Thank you for being a sharer of all things beautiful!


  6. So happy to see you in the space again, Hannah! I've missed your posts. But I totally agree that creating when you're not in the happiest place is difficult. 💔 Thank you for creating through the pain!

  7. Go on Hannah! After darkness there is light.
    I am borderline at the moment...

  8. I am thrilled you are back! You have been missed.

  9. We absolutely are following and want to see more! -Little Studio on the Square @littlesots

  10. So excited you are back....beautiful post and I love your cookbook!

  11. Tonight I checked my email and I thought, "Wait,that's ... Hannah!" It's true that I don't know you, but I've checked the blog on and off and loved the pictures and we lost our mothers at almost the same time, but you are so much younger. I have your cookbook, and I've wished you well and hoped you'd come back and loved your pictures. Sometimes it takes time to get your life back, and I'm working on it -- and here you are, like a gift I really wanted at just the right time. Like hope.
    It's the 3rd your time, but here it's still the 2nd, so I still get to celebrate finding you your first day back.

  12. O yay, welcome back Hannah :) Yes, you have been missed more than you know.
    Always looked forward to when your posts came out with your beautiful photography and beautiful food and beautiful everything... Thanks for sharing you!

  13. I am so excited you are back. I still read blogs, and still bake the cakes I met on this blog. Will try this recipe soon for my Pumpkin Spice Latte-loving husband-to-be.

  14. Yes, Yes, Yes, we still read blogs. So much so. Thanks for sharing and we will be here when you wish to create, inspire and get through the day again. And the photos are lovely. You have helped me start my day so thank you very kindly.

  15. I am so glad you decided not to go back to bed!!! This is wonderful!! Your photos are always so inspiring and this recipe sounds delish!!! This is the first blog post I've seen of yours since I started following. Looking forward to many more!

  16. So glad you are back, too. Writing, and I'm sure cooking, begats writing. But I too have been here.

    And I still read blogs---the best way for people to start reading blogs again is for people to keep writing them.

  17. So nice to see you pop up in my feed this morning! Missed reading your posts. Looks like an incredible cake!

  18. I still read blogs. Everything about this post is Beautiful. Can't wait to make this cake. Thanks for sharing.

  19. This looks wonderful, and thank you for sharing your story. <3

  20. I was so excited to see this in my inbox. I hope coming back to this space can be both a comfort and an avenue for growth for you.

    p.s. your cream scones are the BEST. I make them all the time :)

  21. I've loved your blog for so many years and am so happy you're back! Can't wait to see your new creations :)

  22. And look at all of us waiting to hear from you again. :) That says you created something special here. I'm glad you're taking the time you need and in my own way, with my own circumstances, I understand how pressing publish or even performing the steps that happen before that can cost just a little more than you have to give in the moment. I'm glad this one got through.

  23. I am so thrilled that you are back at it! You were one of the first blogs I started following a few years back. I have always loved your posts. You have no idea how excited I was to see you had posted again!!!

    Beyond my excitement that you are back, I am absolutely i love with your photos! I am definitely going to attempt making this (of course gluten free for me)

    Welcome back. If you are down, remember your readers are always here for you xoxo

  24. welcome back! beautiful post - words, pictures, and recipe. I'm so glad you saw a glimmer of light and moved toward it. As a fellow depression suffer and self-shamer i know how very hard it is just to move at times. your have a great deal of courage in you please don't let anyone else - including yourself - tell you otherwise. take care of yourself.

  25. I have added you back to the "Favorite Blogs" section of my blog. By faith. ;)

  26. I can so relate to how you describe talking yourself out of things. I almost didn't leave a comment because those same thoughts were in my head. I hope you have more moments where you push through those negative thoughts. I know it's a struggle, but know you aren't alone:)

  27. I’m so glad you stopped by, I have checked your blog everyday for the last two years, as this is when I found your blog. Borrowed your cookbook from the library and then bought my own copy. You stop by anytime you feel like it! It’s like bumping into an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, brings a smile to your face and you leave a gift with your recipe! Take Care.

  28. How WONDERFUL to see you in my emails this morning!!
    WELCOME BACK sweetie, you have been missed.
    Everyone deals with life's ups and downs differently.
    You, my dear, are no different, always do what feels good for you.
    YES....blogs are still very popular, yours is!
    YES....your recipes are wonderful!
    YES....your picture are still brilliant!
    YES...I'm very happy you did get out of bed!
    This is your blog, it's your rules, it's your way.
    Happily awaiting your next post, whenever you post it.

  29. This looks amazing!!! You truly have a gift. Keep going one step at a time. Doesn't matter the speed. You have many friends here. I think I just want to eat the sauce with a spoon, hiding in the closet, from my kids. Lol. Hang in there. You got this. We'll all be here when you are able to make magic in your kitchen again.

  30. How lovely to find a new post from you, Hannah! Welcome back - yes, we do still read blogs!
    I echo Dalila G's sentiments wholeheartedly! Lovely to see you back!

  31. So so lovely to see a post from you! Welcome back..and look forward to so much more! Hugs!

  32. Hannah, I follow you on instagram and had no idea you blogged until, randomly, I stumbled upon it today, only two weeks after you posted. I enjoy your appreciation for the simple and nature. I'm so glad you've considered picking the blog back up again. I'm excited to read more. Your pictures always make me wish I was in the mountains with you, enjoying the seasons and new recipes.

    Good luck to you. I look forward to reading and watching what the future holds.

  33. All I can say as that I have followed your work for years. And I'm really happy you're here and doing this today. It's inspiring in ways I can't even begin to explain.

    Hope to see more of you. xo

  34. Glad you are back ,I have missed your wonderful recipes and photography <3

  35. One step at a time at your own pace whenever your body and mind has the energy and ability. At the risk of sounding like a fridge magnet - be kind to yourself.

    It sounds simple, but it's far from easy. Sometimes I ask myself, what kindness would you extend to a person who was in the same situation as you? And then I try and be as kind to myself - sometimes I fail and that's okay, it's part of the kindness.

  36. Lovely to have you back. The things you make are simultaneously creative and simple, and your voice is so authentic and clear. I hope we hear more from you soon!

  37. I am so glad you are back!! I was just talking to my kids about making brownies and your blog sprang to mind. Grief is such an intense wave, may you find peace in the small joy.

  38. yours is one of two blogs of the many I read that recently reappeared. Know that we're always out there and so glad your back.

  39. Your beautiful writing, photography and recipes left such an impression on me. There are a million blogs out there but yours captured such a feeling and atmosphere that felt so genuine and real it has always stuck with me. I just happened to feel like checking in today, knowing that you had been taking time out for yourself since your last post, and was so glad to see you back. We don't know each other but I am sending you so much warmth and love. Your wonderful space here has left as much an impression on me as some of my favourite novels, paintings and poems. Here I am just thinking of it out of the blue years later! Never doubt your talent and I hope this step back into this world proves cathartic for you. Above all do what feels right whether it is more blogging or having space from it. Wishing you all the best - stay courageous! However you move forward I am really proud of you.

  40. So excited to read your new words and look at your beautiful pictures!!!! I suffer major depression myself so I know how hard it can be sometimes. Even if you don’t post again for another three months, this is your space! Do what you want when you want!! :) Thank you for once again sharing with us!!!

  41. Such beautiful photos, love the way you have digitally enhanced them to bring out the colours!

  42. Wow! What an amazing inspiration for a cake! It sounds delicious and just looking at your photographs always make me feel happier plus you truly have a way with words. Never ever stop.

  43. The coffee caramel!!! I literally am adding the ingredients to my grocery list for Christmas Day. Holy yum. Thanks for sharing!

  44. So happy you did decided to bake the cake and post it!! :) I've missed your lovely blog and I just got your cookbook for Christmas!

  45. Hannah, people do read blogs, and anyone would read yours, anyway. Your photos are always beautiful and special - you have a gift. I have all the ingredients for this cake, and plan to make it! I'm glad you came back here, glad you're feeling a little better. :)

  46. I looked up your blog for a recipe I remembered from years back, and was delighted to see a new post! Thank you for sharing more beauty with us. May God bless you as you heal.

  47. Hannah, I too have been following you for years. Your recipes, photography and stories always brought me such heartwarming comfort. I bought your cookbook and the poor thing is worn out and tearing from the binding. I love all the recipes and have created many several times. I still feel deep sadness for the pain you have felt after the loss of your sweet mother. She truly must have been a very special person and has passed that kindness on to you. I will nothing but the best for you as you find your place again in the kitchen creating. Hugs from California.


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