I didn't set out to make a cake recipe without butter or oil. I set out to make a recipe that would incorporate pumpkin butter. See I love pumpkin butter—it has a light texture and a sweet, pumpkin-y flavor that's accented with all the autumn spices. I eat it in the morning on toast, as a healthier way to get my fall flavor fix. (Well, on days I'm not digressing.)
It was one of those serendipitous recipe experiments. It had been a while since I used my mini-loaf pan to make tea cakes. I had some extra Greek yogurt in my fridge. I pulled down the cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice. As the batter came together, I realized that I didn't even need oil or butter to reach the desired consistency—the eggs, yogurt, and pumpkin butter were more than enough as wet ingredients.
The cakes baked up incredibly light with a springy, moist crumb that was refreshing after all the heavy, dense, greasy pumpkin breads I'd encountered of late. Best of all, they had a good balance between spice and pumpkin flavor.
Because I was actually planning on serving these in the afternoon, I pushed them into dessert territory by adding a simple orange glaze. I like these cakes both ways; as a sweet, personal size cake or a satisfying yet light breakfast sweet when eaten plain.
Something to note: pumpkin butters typically come spiced and sweetened and thus will vary by brand. I used Williams Sonoma's version, which is well spiced, medium sweet, and light in texture, though it tastes as much of pumpkin as of spices. If you're using a different brand, taste for sweetness and spices and adjust the spices accordingly.
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios