Yes, I ate cake for dinner. I had a few Raincoast Crisps (OK half a package) and chunks of cheese in between my freezer hors d’ouevres class at The Cookbook Company this afternoon and Melva’s birthday party, but technically what I ate most of closest to dinnertime was cake. M and W had cheese, Raincoast Crisps, pistachios, pears and dry Rice Krispies, poured from the box into the dog bowl and eaten on all fours doggy-style. Fortunately only one of them did that.
I had two kinds of cake – a dense pumpkin one with cream cheese frosting and a tipsy rum raisin cheesecake I’m sorry to say I have neither a photo of nor recipe for. Since I ate it second, it’s safe to say that the pumpkin cake, being after all vegetable-based and topped with cheese, served as my main course and the cheesecake was technically dessert. I ate it around a cozy dinner table with friends and a mug of tea. I could have easily curled up under the table and dozed. (From contentment, you understand, not boredom.) You must have to do some really good things in your life to come back as a lap dog.
I had been craving pumpkin cake since seeing a photo of one somewhere – three layers with cream cheese frosting – and M’s birthday seemed an ideal excuse to make one. No other cake seemed fit enough to bake on Thanksgiving weekend. I love the idea of pumpkin pie far more than the pie itself, which I could really take or leave. (Preferrably leave.) This one is dense, moist, and enough to make three layers or two with enough of a dome on each to slice off and snack on, making for a more even and stackable layer. I ended up only making two because that’s exactly how many round cake pans I could locate – I imagine the others are out in the garden somewhere, or perhaps have been launched out the bathroom window.
I imagine this batter would make fine cupcakes, and you could even do that thing where you spoon some batter into the cup, top with a spoonful of whipped cream cheese spiked with a little honey or maple syrup, and spoon some batter overtop before baking (a sort of inside-out pumpkin cream cheese cupcake). This volume of batter would also do well in a Bundt pan, particularly with this heavy, moist texture.
If you have problems with cake crumbs in your frosting, try freezing the layers first. For even more insurance, spread them with a very thin layer of icing first before you freeze them; this is called a “crumb coat” – kind of catches any crumbs that are going to get loose and wreck your lovely frosting, and freezes them in place like Han Solo in carbonite.
Happy Birthday Melva! Thanks for inviting me to your party. I think you’re great.
Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Grated zest of an orange (optional)
1 14 oz. (398 mL) can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup golden raisins and/or dried cranberries (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 8 oz. (250 g) pkg. light or regular cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
4-5 cups icing sugar, or enough to make a spreadable frosting
2-4 Tbsp. water, or enough to make a spreadable frosting
Preheat to 350°F and spray two or three 9″ round cake pans (or a Bundt pan) with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, oil, eggs, ginger, vanilla and orange zest.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture along with the pumpkin and stir with a spatula until almost combined; add the dried fruit and nuts and stir just until blended. Scrape into prepared pan(s) and bake for an hour, until the tops are springy to the touch. (It will be closer to 45 minutes for three layers, or an hour and ten minutes for a Bundt.) Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
To make frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth; add about a cup of icing sugar and beat until smooth, then add more, and 2 tablespoons of water, and keep beating until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting.
Once cakes have cooled, invert them onto the racks out of their pans, flip them back over and slice most of the domed top off using a long, serrated knife. Frost with the cream cheese frosting.
October 11 2008 10:25 pm | cake