My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Crumb Bars

Pumpkin Crumb Bars. My kids are all pumpkin pie eaters. (I personally can take it or leave it. Unless I am really desperate and craving something sweet...pumpkin pie just doesn't do it for me!) With the holidays quickly approaching...I needed to find a pumpkin pie or similar dessert that was gluten free and tasted great so EVERYONE could it eat. This recipe is one that even I will eat! :)

I took a couple of different pumpkin recipes and tweaked them until I got the flavor and texture I was looking for with the convenience of using a gluten free box cake mix. (If you don't have a gluten allergy you can make this recipe using a regular yellow cake mix!) Although, I love baking...I also don't like to be stressed over the holidays trying to fuss with making gluten free pie dough! This recipe tastes like the inside of a pumpkin pie...the pumpkin custard is silky smooth but instead of having a bottom crust it has a lovely crumb topping. You don't miss the crust and the slightly spicy topping just melts in your mouth. I could become addicted to these. I wasn't a pumpkin pie lover but I could quickly become a pumpkin crumb bar lover! You can also add about 1/2 cup chopped nuts like pecans, walnuts, almonds or macadamia nuts in the crumb topping. I chose not to add them today. I also think an 1/8 cup of toffee bits would be delightful in the topping mixture but I didn't have any to add to the mixture today.

Pumpkin Crumb Bars:
  • 1 can (15-16 oz.) pumpkin puree (not pie filling that already has other stuff added) You can also substitute sweet potatoes if you prefer
  • 1 can (10-12 oz) evaporated milk (If you don't have evaporated milk then you can cook 3 cups of regular or non-dairy milk on low heat until it reduces to 1 1/2 cups). Evaporated milk is just a cooked down thicker version of milk. Cool slightly before using it. It is not sweetened.
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (I pack it tight in the measuring cup). You can substitute regular or raw sugar if you prefer. I like using the brown sugar because I think it gives it a nice mild molasses  flavor to the custard.
  • 3 eggs (I prefer brown eggs because I personally think they make my baked goods seem fluffier but regular eggs will work fine too!)
  • 3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (If you don't have pumpkin pie spice you can combine 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger & 1/8 tsp. ground cloves)
  • 1 box of gluten free yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Gluten Free yellow cake mix, 15 oz. size). If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use a regular yellow cake mix!)
  • 1 1/4 stick of butter (I used real butter because I like the flavor but you can use a dairy free margarine or 3/4 cup oil)
  • 1 tsp. additional pumpkin pie spice or just substitute cinnamon
Cream the pumpkin puree, eggs, evaporated milk, sugar and 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice together for about 2 minutes or until really smooth. I like to make sure it is whipped really good because it gives a nice silky texture after it is baked. Pour into a greased pan. I used an extremely deep dish 12" pie pan but you can use a 11x7 baking dish, two regular 8" pie pans or if you want slightly thinner bars just bake in a 9x13 pan. I wanted these a little thicker to get a decent layer of the silky pumpkin custard. I put mine in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes BEFORE I added the crumb topping.

While the custard was baking, I combined the dry yellow cake mix, melted butter, additional 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice together until it was crumbly. If you are finding it is too dry and powdery then just add a little extra melted butter or oil and if it is too moist then add either a couple tablespoons of sugar or GF flour or cornstarch to get it into a crumbly consistency. Remove the pumpkin custard from the oven and sprinkle the crumbly mixture on top. Return it to the oven and bake until the custard is completely set and no longer jiggly. (I have tried just sprinkling the crumb topping onto the custard prior to any baking but the crumbs sunk to the bottom and didn't give it the crumb texture I wanted. Therefore, I now bake the custard 15 minutes prior to sprinkling on the crumbs!) A knife inserted into the center should come out clean. It will depend on which size pan you use to bake your dessert but my 12" deep dish took about 50 additional minutes after I put the crumb topping on top of the custard to finish baking. Which is a total of 65 minutes of baking! (Everyone's oven temperature and altitude can vary baking times. I recommend checking your dessert after 40 minutes and check in 5-8 minute intervals until center is no longer jiggly). Crumb topping should be golden brown. I like to serve mine cooled at room temperature. It will slice much better. You can serve it with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

The pictures don't do the dessert justice. The custard portion is very silky and not too sweet while the crumb topping is slightly spicy and a hint of butter that just melts in your mouth. I was quite surprised at how much I really liked it considering I am not much of a pumpkin person! It will definitely be on my Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert table! It is easier than preparing a regular pie and MUCH more flavor and texture than a plain old regular pie! I highly recommend this for your holiday dessert!

Gluten Free Casually


  1. If you can't find a gluten free cake mix then you can just make a vanilla cake mix from scratch. See my recipe for gluten free vanilla cupcakes. (Just don't prepare them first! You want to just use the dry mix for these!)

  2. I have also tried the GF Pillsbury yellow cake mix and the Live G Free brand (Aldi) and they work great in this recipe also.