Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Cake

Today is the day we close out our week of pumpkin. It's been a good week. Unless our skin is turning orange and people at our places of employment are asking us if we've been using spray on tan, because that is just embarrassing. But if you're not yet being drilled about desperate winter bronzing techniques, here's just one more sweet pumpkin-y confection until we move on to breakfast cookies.

This is my favorite pumpkin cake. Adapted into muffins with chocolate chips instead of frosting, it's Kip's favorite pumpkin muffin recipe. And from this pumpkin cake came my healthy pumpkin muffins. Why? Because it has tons and tons of pumpkin. If you kind of sort of like pumpkin--if you can handle it in your waffles or a sweet bread, well then this might not be for you (but then, it just might because look--ganache). It's dense and moist and all that is right about pumpkin.

Ah pumpkin, how I love you--you've saved me millions in spray-on tan applications.

You don't have to use a bundt pan. It'll go into 2 loaf pans or make about 24 large muffins (and almost certainly a sheet cake or 2 or 3 layers of cake, though I haven't experimented with that). But a bundt pan is fun because when you're done it looks like one giant donut.

The cake is super super easy to make, but the frosting for this recipe is a bit fussy. You can substitue the frosting from my pumpkin cookies or use pioneer woman's maple frosting to good effect, but if you've got a bit of time, this frosting is better than those--it is really really good--and I will try to take a lot of the fuss out of it for you.

Also--I halved the recipe. So if your pumpkin cake comes out taller that mine did, do not despair (unless you're trying to lose weight and you did not invite enough friends over to share it with you).

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 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 is really 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 ascetically; still tastes great).]

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.



  1. Jean! I love anything made with pumpkin. I want to make ALL these things! Thanks for starting this blog-- this really interests me! Do you think at Christmas you'll post your recipe for those cookies from your mission-- "spekulas" or something? I can't recall the name for sure, I just recall seeing it printed in the now defunct Evansville Parent! :)And, of course, I misplaced the recipe! -Amanda

  2. Hey Amanda--I clearly have a pumpkin addiction also. And I'll definitely be posting the speculaas recipe. In fact, I plan on posting a bajillion Christmas cookie recipes, because I guess I have an addiction there as well. Maybe I should seek counseling.



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