Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pumpkin Cake

With Homemade Icing and Very Berry Topping
WARNING:  This post contains content that may be harmful to your waist-line goals.  This cake is dangerously easy to pound.  The ingredients within (most notably, the amount of sugar) are by no stretch of the imagination "health conscious."  Therefore, I advise that any self-professed Sugar Addict, even those just struggling with an unyielding sweet-tooth, should proceed with caution.  For you, it is advisable that you adhere to the tenets of the buddy system before letting the  first cup of flour hit the bowl - do NOT bake this cake alone; this will go a long way in preventing the adverse effects of devouring a shame-spiral inducing amount of this decadently moist dish.  A second party should be present to hold you accountable to a reasonable bite, taste, slice, or wedge.    Do NOT attempt to rely on your will power alone to resist the temptation of this excessively indulgent, pumpkin dish.  

Okay, okay.  So obviously, I jest.  There is, however, a great deal of truth to this though.

For the most part, anytime I sit down to create a meal, I do it with a focus on health in mind.  I endeavor to create dishes that are delicious and satisfying and that include as many fresh, life promoting ingredients as possible.

This is NOT one of those dishes.

I don't know if any of you noticed but, for the past few fall seasons, there seemed to be a shortage of pumpkin.  So, this past fall, I stocked up on the stuff once it finally hit the shelves.  Throughout the fall and winter season, I made many a pumpkiny-delite in the form of breads, muffins, cakes and pies.

It didn't take too long though, before I was all pumpkined out.

One lone can remained untouched in my cupboard.  There it sat, hidden behind the oatmeal, canned tomatoes, peanut butter and beans, patiently waiting to fulfill its destiny.

This cake was the result of… well, I guess you could say, it was the result of the perfect storm:

  • I had this can of pumpkin.
  • A bag of powdered sugar.
  • And several containers of fruit that, if not used expeditiously, would soon become speckled with spots that were fuzzy and grey.

"I'll make a cake!" I thought, "if for no other reason than to not be wasteful with all that beautiful fruit sittin' in my refrigerator."

(Right… I didn't want to be, wasteful… that's sound reasoning right?!)

The cake I created is in fact "vegan" but, I wouldn't go so far as to call it "friendly."

The final result of the seemingly innocuous combination of fruit, pumpkin, powered sugar and I, produced a surprisingly powerful, sensory-temptress, with a texture that's so moist it seems to practically melt (the way cotton candy does the moment it passes your lips) and icing that soaks into the bread and slips down the sides, leaving you licking sticky fingers and lusting for more.

Fruit Topping*
2 c. black, seedless grapes
6 oz. container of each - blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
half of 16 oz. container of strawberries

Preparation:  Combine all ingredients in large pot on stove.  Cook over medium-low heat for up to one hour stirring occasionally.  Berries will mostly cook down but some of the larger pieces and grapes will still retain their shape; this is fine, even preferable as it makes for a nice presentation once you go to assemble the dish.

16 oz. bag powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 c. milk alternative
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preparation:  In a large bowl slowly mix milk and vanilla into sugar, adding the milk gradually just until you get a creamy, icing consistency.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

Pumpkin Cake
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. agave nectar
1/2 c. no-sugar added applesauce
2 c. pumpkin puree
4 Tbl. milk alternative
1/2 tsp. white vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp. baking soda

Preparation:  In a small glass combine milk alternative and vinegar and let sit for at least 5 minutes before adding baking soda; this is a buttermilk alternative.  In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking powder.  In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and use power mixer to blend ingredients well.  Alternate between wet mixture and buttermilk, slowly folding the ingredients into dry mixture.  Separate into two round baking pans and cook at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until toothpick pressed into center comes out clean.

Once cake has fully cooled**, flip rounds out of pans.  Place one on dish and spread a layer of icing on top (you may want to zap icing briefly in order to make it as easy as possibly to pour on or spread).  Place second layer on top.  Pour remaining icing over top of cake.  When ready to actually serve, top with fruit topping or spoon out as much per piece as you (or your guests) would like.

Finally, sit back and indulge.
Bake at your own risk,

*I prepared my topping a few nights ahead of time.  I cooked down my fruit, drained a majority of the liquid into a separate jar and set the fruit topping aside in a sealable, plastic container.  The extra liquid could be used as syrup to drizzle over pancakes, add flavor to a fizzy, summer bevy (think berry mojito), or pair it with a sprinkling of nuts as a topper for vanilla ice cream (try coconut milk ice cream; you'll be blown away by this stud dairy alternative).
** I actually did not wait to let my cake fully cool.  When I assembled my cake, each piece was still very warm.  So when I went to put on the icing, it soaked into the middle of the cake and melted as I poured it over the top which resulted in it running over the sides but then, sadly, also over the edge of the plate.  Nobody ever wants to lose icing.  So, maybe you don't let it cool 100% of the way but, just be for warned, this icing is exactly like what you'd expect on a cinnamon roll and it can be just as messy.


  1. Good Morning Rachel,
    I've got a question for you regarding the pumpkin cake. Do you think it would be possible to cut it into portion sizes, then freeze them? I suppose anything can be frozen but am thinking that with this type of dessert, which sounds so delicious, it might be a good idea to freeze portions of it, especially if one lives alone.

  2. Ha ha ha! Yes Susan, I think that might be a very good idea. This recipe would cook up just fine in muffin form too; that might be a good option for you. I haven't tried freezing this cake (I imagine the texture would lose some of it's consistency between the icing and the berries and all) but, I don't see why it wouldn't be worth giving a try. You could also reduce the recipe down to 1/4 and bake in muffin form. Just enough to enjoy a muffin here and there throughout the week.
    You could also bake this cake, save just enough for you, and then be the most popular person in the office! That's one of my favorite things to do. :)
    Thanks for such an excellent question!

  3. This entry is similar to reading a romance novel. "temptress" "icing slips down the side" "lusting for more". You're saucy sister!