Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall-Is-Coming Pumpkin Cake

I was writing down potential recipes for the future, and after a few minutes realized that they were all orange--pumpkin cake, sweet potatoes, carrot cake cupcakes, baked squash. I guess that's what happens when the seasons change! You got tons of grilled recipes in May and June, and now we'll slowly be making the transition to harvest-themed meals.

This pumpkin cake is like a mix between pumpkin pie and cake, really. It's got a cakey texture, but it's still very moist. It also has a light flavor of pie spices--cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves--that you could omit to enhance the pure pumpkin flavor, or increase to make more spicy and harvest-y.

To start, grab a big bowl and crack in three eggs.

A friend recently asked the best way to crack eggs, to keep from getting bits of shell in your batter. I like to crack once, hard, and use a sharp edge, like the edge of the counter or a lip of the bowl. A clean crack has fewer fragments that might find their way into your egg. It also helps to crack first into a small bowl. That way, you're chasing the shell in a small space, rather than a large mixing bowl that might already have other ingredients in it.

White and brown sugar make their appearance. It's cake, of course they would.

Now mix 'em together.

Measure a cup of vegetable oil (and look, I'm using the right kind of measuring tool today!)

Crack open a can of pumpkin. I can't be the only one thinking fall--when I went to the store, the Libby's canned pumpkin was nearly cleaned out, and the other brands were on sale.

Add the oil and pumpkin to the eggs and sugar bowl, to make a not-so-appealing looking mess.

That looks a little better.

The Kid told me that it was "y'orange". That's her made-up color--something between yellow and orange. Our cat is also y'orange.

Y'orange and angry.

Add the dry ingredients next. Flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. All very plain ingredients to photograph, so I cheated and only took one picture.

Here are the classic fall spices. Clockwise from the top left: cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Dump 'em right into the bowl.

I was all ready to toss the batter in the oven, when the urge to add crunchy things overcame me. I know not everyone likes crunchy bits in their cake, so I went light on them. But I did add a handful of chopped pecans and butterscotch chips.

If this doesn't look like fall in a bowl, I don't know what does.

The batter needed somewhere to go to bake. I grabbed one of my big cake pans and gave it a good coat of nonstick spray.

Put the batter in the pan and smooth out the top.

Bake the cake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Another sign your cake is done is when the edges of the cake pull away from the pan. See how there's a small gap at the edge, between the cake and the pan?
Mmm. Looks so good! I love how you can see little bits of nuts and butterscotch chips peeking out the top.

While the cake cools (and you want it to be very cool when you frost it), you can make, what else, the frosting.

Nothing could pair as well with pumpkin cake than cream cheese frosting.

I used both cream cheese and butter. If you wanted it to be more cream cheese-y, I'd replace half of the butter with one of those little 4-oz squares of cream cheese.

I also like to let them come to room temperature in the bowl I'm going to be beating them in. That way, they come out of the packages clean and I'm not scraping tinfoil or waxed paper to get all of it.

Once they're room temperature, I like to give them a little beat.

Nothing super thorough. Just to make sure they're warm enough, and to give them a head start in blending together. If they are still too cold (and you'll know--there will be little lumps of cream cheese and butter instead of a nice, smooth consistency), just wait a little longer.

Then add the powdered sugar. Half at a time, to prevent your kitchen from becoming a sugary mess. And be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of your bowl!

A bit of vanilla, which belongs in every cake and frosting recipe ever created.

Whip until the frosting is nice and fluffy. Some people add milk to thin their icing--I didn't think this icing needed it. But if it makes you feel better, I guess you could always put some in.

So, if at this point your cake is cooled, you can slap the frosting onto the cake.

Then cut yourself a huge square.

I thought that was a large square. Until Mr. Kim Chee cut himself a slice twice that big.

If you're looking for a fall-festive, spicy-but-not-too-spicy, moist but cakey cake, try Fall-Is-Coming Pumpkin Cake!

Recipe: Fall-Is-Coming Pumpkin Cake

3 eggs
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 can pumpkin
1 c. oil

2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 c. butterscotch chips
1/4 c. chopped pecans

1 package cream cheese
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a rectangular cake pan.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugars. Mix until eggs are broken up and sugars are well blended. Add pumpkin and oil. Mix well.

Add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix well. Gently stir in butterscotch chips and pecans until just combined. Pour batter into cake pan; bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely.

In another bowl, combine cream cheese and butter; allow to come to room temperature. Add powdered sugar and beat well, until fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Frost cooled cake with the frosting. Serve!


  1. This looks *really* good! I loved the y'orange cat pic, by the way. ; )

  2. Can't wait to try this one!! I am a huge fan of pumpkin bars with cream cheese froasting, and this looks just as good!!!

  3. The y'orange cat was not impressed!

    Sara, Mr. Kim Chee loves cream cheese frosting, too. Some things were just not meant to be eaten without it!