Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Cake: A Reminder

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

A little less than a year ago, I posted my favorite pumpkin cake. I've learned a thing or two about photography since then. (Don't snork that pumpkin batter through your nose like that; it's unbecoming.) Okay, fine, I've learned a thing: that pictures look better when taken by my window at sunny times. I can't always manage that in the winter, but I try. At any rate, my pictures are no longer taken with glaring flash (go on, have a look). That's something right (oh, come on, right). But photography aside, this cake is worth remembering. I enjoyed remembering every bite tonight when we had some friends over. And I thought you might want to as well.

This pumpkin cake is a breeze to whip together (though the caramel frosting requires a bit more fuss) and it can serve a crowd.

Plus, it's super loaded with pumpkin. Which makes it acceptable for breakfast, right? Wrong. Unless you were planning on frosted donuts anyway, in which case, go for it.

The frosting is fussy, but you could sub it out with your favorite vanilla or maple or cream cheese or caramel. And you can add a chocolate glaze for extra pizzazz, though I ran out of time today.

It was pretty anyway and we enjoyed licking the spatulas.

Pumpkin Cake.

Pumpkin Cake
(Serves 24-48 depending on the type of friends you have)

2 C sugar
1 1/4 C oil (I use canola)
3 C pumpkin
4 eggs
3 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice

Preheat your oven to 325. Stir sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin until well mixed. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and allspice. Blend dry into wet. Bake for about an hour  or an hour and 10 minutes in a greased bundt pan. (If you halve the recipe, bake for about 40 minutes.)

For the frosting:

1 C brown sugar
2/3 C evaporated milk (I used regular, though I think that makes it take longer to get to softball stage)
1 C powdered sugar
1/2 C butter

Mix all ingredients in sauce pan and boil on medium heat until mixture forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water. [Okay, here's where I try to make it less fussy. You're going to be boiling it for 10-15 minutes without stirring it. So once it gets going, you can ignore it (unless you've got your heat up way high--do not do that) for at least 10 minutes. Do your dishes or something. If you've got a candy thermometer or instant read thermometer, you're going to let it get to 235-240 degrees. Frankly, even as a cheapskate, I think a decent instant read thermometer is a worthy investment. It saves you from gross or wasted food, and it saves you from obsessing about whether your turkey or cheesecake isreally done. It just makes cooking life easier. 

Anyway, if you don't have an instant read thermometer, give your frosting a good ten minutes and then take a bit in a spoon and drop it in a glass of cold water. If it falls/drifts apart, it's not ready and you should give it a couple more minutes and try again; if you can form it into a loose ball with your fingertips, that's softball stage. If you accidentally let it get to hard ball or the next stage where it forms candy in the water, oh well, glop it on your cake lickity split and call it candied pumpkin cake.) Alright, once it's to soft ball stage, take it off the heat, let it cool for just about 30-60 seconds and pour it in a bowl and beat it. You're going to beat it until it becomes lighter in color and creamy looking. When it gets to that point, get it on your cake as quickly as possible because it's cooling down fast and if you wait to long to--say--take a few pictures, you're going to have to glop/paste it to your cake (only a problem aesthetically; still tastes great).]

Here, you actually might appreciate my old pictures as they gave a visual on how the frosting changes. They're right here

For the ganache:

1/4 C cream
1/2 C chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60%. It's a good way to get a fairly cheap, fairly good chocolate, though any old semi-sweet will do)

Heat cream and chocolate on medium low and whisk until chocolate melts. 

Drizzle over cake.

I served this the next day and liked how the frosting sort of bled sugary-ness into the cake. I guess I'm that kind of a person. 


Linked to Sweets for a Saturday


  1. Dear Jean, You have inspired me to buy an instant read thermometer. I did. It was awesome. But you forgot to tell me to buy one for ever. member. of. my. family. because they all have an unhealthy obsession with it and I'm constantly finding it stuck in the heat registers (how hot is that hot air?) in my husband's tool box, in the kids bedroom stuck in the mattress corners, etc. Now I have no idea where it is and I shall have to buy another one (or four.) Might want to pass that warning on to your readers.

  2. Psst. Don't buy another one until after November 1st. I may or may not be doing a little giveaway. Sincerely, Jean



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