Deliciously moist cake with the subtle flavour of pumpkin and spices covered in soft cream cheese frosting – this cake will become a new favourite.
Pumpkin based food seems to have gone crazy this year or is it just me? I’ve always associated pumpkin with November and the run up to Thanksgiving, but the pumpkin craze started earlier this year. It has been really great to see so many people using the flesh from their pumpkins that they have carved for Halloween in dishes instead of just throwing them away as it makes some very tasty things – especially cake!
Pumpkin has always been popular in America for Thanksgiving which is how I first came across it in baking. An American friend I used to work with brought in her Pumpkin Cake Bars that she always makes for Thanksgiving. I needed quite a bit of persuading to try them because pumpkin in cake seemed a little strange to me back then. They were delicious and she kindly shared the recipe with me which I have made every year since.
As I have mentioned before, the Pumpkin Cake Bars are Mr Curly’s all time favourite. Instead of just making them again this year, I decided to spice things up a bit – literally! I’ve added lovely spices which really compliment the pumpkin but don’t overpower it’s subtle flavour.
For the first time I attempted making my own pumpkin puree using a recipe from Jo’s Kitchen Larder.I hadn’t previously realised that it was something that could quite easily be made yourself. Although I was impressed with the simplicity of making the puree, I’m not convinced I would rush to do it again. This is partly due to it being slightly time consuming and partly due to laziness. The advantages of making the puree yourself are that it is a great way of using up pumpkin at Halloween instead of there being waste. It is also far cheaper to make it yourself. The pumpkin I bought was 45p for a medium sized pumpkin around 2kg and it made approximately 600g worth of puree. This compared to a 425g tin of puree which can start at £2 is a huge difference in price which can’t be ignored.
I cannot deny making the pumpkin puree yourself is cheaper and can help combat waste, but quicker it was not. I don’t buy pumpkins to carve at Halloween so waste isn’t an issue for me, but this is when it comes down to my laziness. Can you get much easier than opening a can? The tinned puree in my experience is a more vibrant orange colour which gives the final cake a lovely colour and it has a thicker texture. The texture especially worried me when I made it myself because I didn’t want it to be too wet, but didn’t want to remove all of the moisture.
Please do try making the puree yourself and make your own decision. Jo has great instructions and it really is quite simple to do.
If you haven’t tried pumpkin cake before, do not be put off by the idea of it like I initially was. Vegetables in cake are delicious! The chances are you like carrot cake so there is nothing about this you wouldn’t like. It has the same moistness of a carrot cake with a warming flavour from the tasty spices.
The first time I make a new cake, I’m always a little nervous to see how it turns out – not every recipe trial is a success you know! I selected my lucky taste testers and awaited their opinions. I’m pleased to say they all loved it – success! You can really tell the difference if people like something or if they really like it. I am pleased to say that this was the latter. Mr Curly had one comment for improvement – more frosting; but he would eat it straight from the bowl if he got the chance!
If you don’t want to bake the mix in three tins, you can use two and monitor the baking time. I would check after 25 minutes but I would suspect it would take at least 30.
The spices create such a warming and comforting flavour to the cake which is perfect for Autumn, but something you could enjoy at anytime of the year. This is definitely a cake you should try!
For the cake
385g caster sugar
300g plain flour
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground all spice
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
240ml sunflower oil
425g pumpkin puree
For the frosting
75g unsalted butter
450g icing sugar
200g full fat cream cheese
- Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line three 8 inch sandwich tins
- Add all of the ingredients to your bowl or mixer and beat until completely combined
- Divide the mixture equally between the three tins. I did this by roughly weighing the amount of mix I added to each tin but you can do it by eye
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until a cocktail stick poked into the cake comes out clean
- Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 20 minutes or so before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely
- Once the cakes are completely cooled, make the frosting
- Beat the butter until smooth and softened
- Add the cream cheese and icing sugar and beat until it is completely smooth and there are no lumps
- Take the first layer of cake and turn it over onto the plate or stand you are using. Add a generous layer of the frosting and spread out evenly. Repeat with the second layer
- With the final layer, place it on top of the other layers but the right way round. Cover the cake completely with the rest of the frosting – you’re going for a semi naked look so don’t worry if you can see the cake through the frosting