Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

That’s kind of a mouthful!  🙂  An extremely tasty mouthful, at that!

It is also quite tasty.  And probably not the best for my dieting efforts.  😛

I actually made this cake twice, as the recipe also suggests a bundt version.  This cake is NOT a lie.


It was an excellent excuse to buy that bundt pan I’ve been eying for the last month or so.  Fall just seems like a very bundt-y time of year.  Especially with pumpkin.

The list of ingredients is relatively short for the amazing taste of this cake!

One of the best things I’ve invested in so far has been a digital scale.  It’s the red thing hanging out on the right, under the brown sugar.

I’ve been really amazed at the lack of standardization in quantities and weights of prepackaged ingredients…butter, for instance.  While every stick says it is 1/2 cup, they weigh anywhere from 3.5 to 6 ounces!  That’s a big difference when baking.

Begin by creaming 4 oz butter with 12 oz brown sugar.  I’ve actually mixed 1 bag of light brown sugar with a bag of dark brown sugar, and I’m pretty sure I like the taste better that way.  Holy cow, what an innovation!  I’ve created medium brown sugar!  LOL

Room temperature is suggested for butter, eggs, and other ingredients from the fridge.  I’m finding the term ‘room temperature’ is pretty subjective.  Does it mean winter or summer room temp?  Texas room temp?  Mum’s house (around 80F), or mine (around 70F)?

I’ve decided what it really means is that the ingredients need to be soft enough to mix and emulsify well, but not so soft that they are liquidy and soggy.  Creaming the butter and sugar creates little air bubbles, which in turn, make the cake or muffins or whatever lighter and fluffier.

In a small bowl, bet together 2 eggs and 1 tbsp vanilla extract.  In another bowl, measure out 1 can pumpkin puree.  In a third bowl, sift together 2 cups cake flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground allspice, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves.  Set out 1/2 cup buttermilk so it warms a bit to ‘room temp’.

First, add the egg mixture to the creamed butter sugar mixture, 1 tbsp at a time, letting it become fully incorporated before adding the next tbsp.  Stop about halfway through, and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.

Then, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour.  Allow ingredients to incorporate between additions, and stop to scrape the bowl at least once.

For the bundt, just spray the pan with non-stick of your choice, fill and bake at 350F for abut an hour.

For the frosted layer cake, spray a 9 inch round, then line the bottom with a cut circle of parchment paper.  Again, bake at 350F for about an hour.

To make the frosting, toast 4oz pecan pieces.  Blend together 12 oz cream cheese, 3 oz butter, 1/2 cup maple syrup, and 1 3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Use the best maple syrup.  Not the stuff that is really coloured corn syrup, but the real stuff that comes from trees!  I get mine from Whole foods, in the bulk isle, and it’s really pretty reasonable that way.

Unmold the cake onto a cake flat or tart pan bottom, leaving the parchment paper on the cake.  Level if necessary, and then slice the cake into tow layers.  Place the cake’s top layer onto the serving plate, cut side up, and frost.  Flip the bottom half onto the frosted part, parchment paper side up.  Peel off the paper and frost.

Press the toasted pecans into the side of the frosted cake.

Use a teaspoon to create swirls on the top.

Now it looks like something from the bakery!  No action photos, though, as it was almost 2AM!

I didn’t get the two layers quite even, but it still looks great, and tastes awesome!  Since it has cream cheese in the frosting, I refrigerated it overnight, but it tastes better served at room temperature…whatever that is!

Candy for Grownups

Or for me. 😛   But I’m trying to do a bit of a better diet for the next couple of months, so I’ll try not to eat them all!

I find few things as close to perfection as the combination of pecans, caramel, and chocolate.  And with all the candy out and about lately, I decided to make some at home.

I might try to be more artistic with the chocolate next time, but today, the point was, “how do they taste?”  Will they still that little voice in my head telling me that I missed out on Haloween because I didn’t go nuts on candy?  No pun intended there, but I’m a little nuts too just now!

Grabbed a package of caramels at the store.  The last package.  The one I had to get down on my knees in HEB and reach all the way to the very back of the shelf kind of stuck in the crack back there package.  People were staring.  I NEEDED caramels.

Safely at home, I unwrapped (tedious)…

and melted the caramels (easy)  in a Pyrex bowl in the microwave.

Took a couple of minutes, with plenty of stirring in between minute 1 and minute 2.

That beautiful Granny Smith apple back there is for the caramel apple Rat Boy asked me to make.

Stir in the pecans.  Plenty of them.  I used 2 cups of large pecan pieces, and another cup of smaller pieces.  I did Rat Boy’s apple first, so I wasn’t  working with a full deck  a full bowl.  😛

Stir until the pecans are well coated.  It’s sticky and gooey and just marvelous.

Melt chocolate in the microwave for the next layer.  I decided to go with milk chocolate chips.  Easy to melt…not patient enough to temper chocolate.

I used half a bag.  Drizzled the chocolate off a teaspoon onto the pecan clusters.

Let them cool of a while on a silpat or parchment paper.  They are VERY sticky!

That’s Rat Boy’s apple over there.  He’s too old for trick ‘r treating these days, but still wants treats.  🙂

I just had to get closer to the deliciousness.  And then taste a couple…still warm….I think I died and went to Heaven!  Briefly.

Chill them in the fridge for about 2 hours, and the chocolate will set up.  You can keep them at cool room temperature (and eat them) until your candy cravings are banished!

Or mine.  That might be never though.

Maybe that wouldn’t really be such a bad thing.  I did only eat 2!  🙂

LOL  Frogs and turtles….

NOTE:  To chill, use a layer of wax paper if the silpat won’t fit in the ‘fridge!  Otherwise, you’ll need a chisel to get them off the plate.  Unless you just want to hold it up to your face and lick them until they are soft enough to slip off!  😛

Orange Pecan Wild Rice

The other day, my Mum passed on some wild rice that she got from a friend who actually grows it in Minnesota!  I love wild rice, but never seem to cook it properly.  Guess I’m inpatient.  😛

LOL.  I meant iMpatient, but some days in-patient works too.

So I turned for help to the barefoot contessa.  I just love her show…and her food.  She always seems so calm, even when having a party with awesome food and drink that all looks like it took a week to prepare with an army of chefs!  I also wanted to add a nice layer of flavor to the rice, which admittedly does have a nice nutty flavor alone, but I’ve been trying new things lately.  Plus, I really wanted to zest some oranges with my new microplane zester!  😛

Start with a cup of wild rice, 1 1/4 cup broth (the contessa uses chicken, I used veggie), 1 1/4 cup water, and 1 tbsp butter in a small pan, high heat to boiling.  Immediately cover the pan, turning the heat down to a slow simmer.  You can salt or not.  I don’t.  We are weirdos who don’t like salt much.  Go figure.

Cook the rice for about an hour.  This type of rice should be stirred occasionally, but not until it’s almost done.  You will know when this is because the grains begin to burst open.

When the rice is tender, turn off the heat and let it steam for about 5 minutes.

Stir into the cooked rice 1 cup of toasted pecan halves, 1 tsp orange zest, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 cup seedless green grapes, and 1/2 cup of chopped scallions.  No basil.  This time.  😀

 


It was VERY orangy.  I think the next time, I’ll leave out the juice, and just go with the zest.  And, the boys thought the grapes were a little weird, so I’d only use 1/2 cup.  Otherwise, it tasted great.

We ate it with pork chops, which was kind of a fail, then with Savory Crockpot Chicken which was a stunning success.  I’m leaving that for tomorrow, as it’s kind of late, and the boys are clamoring for cookies.