So, you would like to make dessert for the harvest season, but pumpkin pie seems so passe. Well, give pumpkin cake a try. This spiced treat includes a sweet caramel and cream cheese frosting that will knock your socks off - assuming you wear them.
I have adapted the recipe from Bon Apetit (you will notice the magazine in some of the pix), mostly because I just can't do exactly as told. Ever. My advice for those of you inspired by this Instructable is to follow the basic instructions and not to copy my actions - unless you like to take the long way.
Always make sure you have ingredients and hardware on hand BEFORE starting the project. Just this once, I was prepared and did not have to run out midway - thanks to my previous pumpkin torte success/debacle, I had already purchased heavy whipping cream.
2 9" round cake pans
big mixing bowl - or three, if you don't want to wash between steps
2 smaller bowls
A marvelous electric mixer - if not, then a sturdy spoon, lots of patience, and serious biceps.
a long serrated knife
a rubber spatula
a wide dull knife (aka frosting spatula)
The Cake Ingredients
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 15 oz. can pumpkin pie filling***
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
The Frosting Ingredients
1 1# box powdered sugar
1/2 cup + 1Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 8oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
***The original recipe called for pure pumpkin , 1 1/2 cup sugar, and a host of spices. To save time, I hacked it and used Libby's pie filling, decreasing sugar. It worked.
Step 1: The cake batter
First, we assemble the cake. Preheat the oven to 350. Make sure the racks are centered - too high or too low and your cake will burn, baby, burn. Butter and flour the two cake pans, tapping out excess flour. This will enable your cakes to pop out nicely when done. I didn't actually have to do this because I have special nifty pans with arms that cut and relaease the bottoms. However, in the interest of instruction, I have shown this step for those of you who probably don't have weird kitchen gadgetry.
Whisk the first three ingredients in a large bowl. Realize you want to use this bowl for the next step and transfer the flour mixture to one of the cake pans temporarily. Alternately, start out using an extra bowl. Sigh.
Using electric mixer (see note on previous step under "Hardware") beat pumpkin, sugar, and oil in large bowl. I happen to have hazelnut oil, so I substituted about a 1/4 cup of it for some of the vegetable oil - should add a subtle flavor without changing the cake structure. Feel free to experiment, just don't change the total amount of oil. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to incorporate between additions. Here the recipe called for 2 tsps of orange peel. Bleah. I skipped that and added some lemon peel instead. Your cat will be supervising, so make sure no fur gets in the food. Ugh. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed just enough to blend it. You want a light cake and beating the devil out of it will increase gluten production making for a more, ah, tough chewy cake. Can we say, "gross"? Now that the batter is ready, divide it equally into the prefloured and now empty cake pans.
Bake the batter until a toothpick inserted comes out clean - 35 minutes in my oven. Cool the cakes in pans for 10 minutes or so, then flip them out (nice to have a cooling rack for this) and turn them top side up to cool completely.
During the cooking time, you may realize the can of pumpkin filling you purchased was overly large. Since you have excess, you should utilize it by attempting the pumpkin torte again. Hey! By the time the cakes are done, you can toss it into the oven preheated to the same cooking temperature. What else to do on a rainy day but bake? Certainly not going to vaccuum...