Introduction: No Waste "REAL" Pumpkin Cake & Cake Pop
Pumpkin is now really EVERYWHERE! Today I will show you a super realistic pumpkin cake made FROM SCRATCH. Best part of this Instructable is that there will be NO WASTE on the cake -- I'll show you how I turn leftover cake into really cute mini pumpkin cake pops.
You can make these as bigger sizes or different sizes for Halloween prop, Thanksgiving dessert, table setting or literally anything. The technique of making the cake pops also applies to almost everything, so you won't need to throw any cake off-cut in the future.
Now let's start from this 0-100 journey with pumpkin!
Mini bundt pan, spatula, mixing bowl, stand mixer / hand mixer, blender / hand blender
Step 1: From Scratch - Prepare Pumpkin
Yep, the first step starts with a real pumpkin. If you prefer store bought pumpkin puree, completely fine and please skip first two steps. However I always enjoy making my own pumpkin puree -- I used Kent Pumpkin here (dark green skin), they're really creamy and naturally sweet and fragrant. I much prefer them in baking than canned puree. Plus it's really easy to make.
1. Rinse the pumpkin, and clean the skin as well. I used 1/4 of a Kent pumpkin.
2. Use a knife/spoon to remove the middle part and all the pumpkin seeds.
3. Roughly chop them into big chunks
4. Put all chopped pieces in boiling water. Depending on your size of the pumpkin and the size of your pot, it might take about 5-15 min to fully cook your pumpkin.
5. An easy way to detect if they're ready -- put a stick into the pumpkin, if it's soft enough to push through the stick, they're ready to be taken out!
6. Take out the pumpkin, and leave them till room temperature or slightly warm before cutting
7. Now the skins are really soft to be removed, roughly chop off all the skin and chop the flesh into smaller pieces
Step 2: Make Pumpkin Puree
Now we're ready to make our own pumpkin puree.
1. Put all chopped pumpkin pieces into a mixing bowl.
2. Add a little bit water into your pumpkin for a smoother texture -- add 1 tablespoon each time. You don't want your puree to be too watery otherwise it will dilute the taste of your cake. Add water gradually till you can blend your pumpkin.
3. I used a hand blender, but you can use any blender you have. Keep blending till it's smooth. As we will bake it later, it doesn't matter if there're small chunks of pumpkin inside, it will add a bit texture to the cake. If you want super smooth puree for other baking purposes, you can run it through a mesh.
4. Now you've had a super nice homemade pumpkin puree.
Please note: if you use store bought pumpkin puree, make sure it's the one that without any sugar (not pumpkin pie filling).
Step 3: Prepare Your Pumpkin Spice Cake
Pumpkin Puree 350g (1.5 cups)
Pumpkin spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice) 1tsp each
Salt 1/2 tsp
Baking powder 1 tsp
Plain flour 500g (3.5 cups)
Raw Sugar (or light brown sugar, or dark brown sugar) 400g (2 cups)
Cream 350g (1.5 cups)
Softened unsalted butter 227g (1 cup)
1. Using a stand mixer (or you can use hand mixer for this recipe, but stand mixer is easier for me to take photos) to start whipping softened butter.
2. Add in your choice of sugar. I suggest sugar with slightly brown colour, for example raw sugar or light brown sugar. If you want a really dark colour cake, you can also use dark brown sugar.
3. After the sugar is also whipped in butter, add in cream.
4. When all ingredients are mixed, put in eggs one by one. Add the next one when it's mixed thoroughly.
5. Mix all the dry ingredients - pumpkin spice, plain flour, salt, baking powder. Here I used ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. You can also add clove powder or any other spice you like. You can adjust the quantity here to make your cake spicier if you like.
6. Sieve all dry ingredients and mix them evenly.
7. Add dry ingredients into the mixing bowl in 3 times. Each time after putting in the dry ingredients, put 1/3 of the pumpkin puree as well.
8. Add dry ingredients and pumpkin puree in turn, till the batter is mixed to a silky and smooth texture. Don't over-whip your batter!
Please note: this recipe can make 2-3 trays of mini bundt cakes, I made 1 tray (12 cakes = 6 pumpkins) and the leftover batter I baked a low 6 inch cake. I planned to use the cake as a base stand for the cake pops but turns out too small so I didn't use it. You can adjust the recipe amount by how many portions you want to make.
Step 4: Bake Your Pumpkin Cake
Most of the bundt pans are already non sticky so you don't really need to prep the pan. However here I'm still showing you how to do it just in case yours is not non sticky or is getting older so it will stick without prep the pan.
1. Take a piece of softened butter, and use your finger to rub into the bundt pan.
2. Dust flour onto the pan, and shake off the excess flour.
3. Pipe batter (or scoop) into the mould. 175°C (375°F) Bake 20 min.
Please note: each pan and oven is completely different so this time and temperature could vary depending on your appliance. The easiest way to check is using a toothpick and push into the cake and take out -- if it comes out completely clean then your cake is ready! If not then you will need to keep baking for another 5 min or so.
4. Take out your pan and left it to rest
Step 5: Trim Off Your Cake
Now take out your cakes out of the mould, and using a serrated knife to trim a good amount off the bottom.
The reason for this step is that you want a nice and flat bottom, plus you don't want your pumpkin to become a butternut squash in the end -- pumpkins are shorter, fatter, rounder, so you need to trim off the bottom for your cake.
Don't throw (or eat up) the off cuts! They will turn into little cute cake pops later.
Put 2 pieces of cakes together, and now we're ready to start the real pumpkin process
Step 6: Make Cream Cheese Frosting
Softened unsalted butter 75g (1/4 cup)
Softened Cream cheese 125g (half a packaging)
Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
Icing sugar 200g (1 cup)
1. Whip softened butter and cream cheese together
2. Add vanilla extract and icing sugar
3. Keep whipping till it's silky and smooth.
(This frosting recipe is sooo good I love it as a filling for all kinds of cakes)
Step 7: Assemble Your Pumpkin Cakes
1. Pipe around your pumpkin cake, you can put a piece of silicone paper underneath for the ease of carrying it later on.
2. OPTIONAL: I put some sunflower seeds in the middle to resemble the pumpkin seeds, you can also chop up pumpkin seeds or just left it out
3. Put the other half of cake, and fill the middle hole.
4. Transfer cakes onto a tray and put in the fridge to set for 30min - 1hour.
Step 8: Make Your Buttercream
I'm not a huge fan when comes to eating American buttercream, but it's perfect for this job -- it will hold the shape, and will be easy to smooth out. Also we're only using this for the outside so the overall taste is quite nice.
Softened unsalted butter 230g (1 cup)
Icing sugar (powder sugar) 300g (1.5 cup)
1. Whip softened butter till fluffy and pale in colour.
2. Add icing sugar gradually, don't throw everything in the mixer at once otherwise it will fly everywhere.
3. When your buttercream is silky and smooth, add your choice of colouring. I used orange and brown and a bit of red to resemble the pumpkin colour.
Please note: It will HAVE TO be icing sugar (or powdered sugar) otherwise you will taste unmelted sugar when eating which is not nice. Also the colour for whipped buttercream is LIGHTER than your desired colour, as it will darken a lot during the smoothing stage, so don't add too much colouring here.
Step 9: Build the Basic Shape of Pumpkin
1. Use a palette knife or a piping bag, roughly put a decent layer of buttercream outside your cake.
2. Don't worry about being perfect here, just roughly put on and make sure all parts of your cake is covered in buttercream is good enough.
3. You can add a bit more among the "waist line" for some pumpkins to be more realistic.
4. Put the pumpkin cake in the fridge to chill before next step.
Step 10: Sculpt Your Cake
1. Take out your slightly hardened cake, and use any tool or stick to make the line in between.
2. The lines are preferably to be a bit deeper, as it will lose some depth during the smooth process.
3. When all lines are marked, dip your fingers in cold clean water (also make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before this step)
4. With damp finger you can smooth out buttercream with almost no effort!
5. Smooth out the surface, and use your fingers to go into the lines you marked before to smooth it out.
6. You can see as you start to smooth it, the colour become so much darker than before!
7. Put them back to fridge to chill another 2-3 hours for easy handling.
Step 11: Optional: Make a Fondant Stem
Oh you can go creative with your stem. I've seen people using real stems, or bread sticks etc, however I'd like to make it edible and realistic.
1. I started with a bit of green, brown and white fondant. You can just add colouring in one, but I wanted to show you what colour I mixed through to achieve the final colour of the stem.
2. Mix your fondant through, and take a small piece and roll into a teardrop shape.
3. Chop off the bottom and the top of the "tear"
4. Use the back of the knife to make some random lines around it
5. Now you have a really simple but cute stem for your pumpkin! You can make it longer and twist it -- be creative and you can make any shape you like.
Step 12: Finishing Pumpkin Cakes
1. I took off the parchment paper underneath the cake when carving it, and replaced with a smaller piece of parchment paper underneath. This way you won't have buttercream and cream cheese sticking everywhere.
2. When you put the paper underneath, you can also smooth out the bottom edge as you go.
3. Put all pumpkins on the tray, and put on the stem, and your cakes are ready!
Step 13: Prep Cake Pops
Remember the off cuts we had at the beginning? Well don't throw them out!
1. Put the off cuts in a blender, add 1 tbsp of the orange buttercream made earlier
2. Blend till a doughy and sticky stage, and can be easily shaped with hand.
3. Use an icecream scoop or spoon, divide the dough into small balls.
Step 14: Shape Pumpkin Cake Pops
1. I made my pumpkins a bit shorter and fatter than a normal ball shaped cake pop.
2. Use anything round and mark a dent on the top
3. Use a stick or any tool to mark the lines on the side -- again make the lines a bit deeper so they're still visible after coating
4. Put all cake pops on a tray and put in fridge to chill 30 min before using.
Step 15: Dip Your Pumpkin Cake Pops!
Compound white chocolate, baking melts or candy melts are the best choices for cake pops. Here I used white chocolate baking melts.
1. Melt the chocolate in microwave for 30 seconds intervals till fully melted.
2. Dip the cake pop stick (or paper straw) end in the chocolate and shake off excess.
3. Push the stick into the bottom of the small pumpkin
4. I put all my prepared cake pops in a cup for easier to use later.
5. Dip your pumpkin into the chocolate melts, drip away the excess, and wait till it's half dried and put back to the cup or holder.
Step 16: Final Touches & Varieties on Cake Pop
For a bit combination of colour, I added some orange colouring to my chocolate. Please note you will need fat soluble food colouring here as water based will seize the chocolate.
1. Mix the powder evenly in the chocolate.
2. Dip the rest of cake pops in orange coloured chocolate.
3. Use the leftover fondant made before, and make miniature stems.
4. Put a little bit melted chocolate underneath, and stick up on the cake pops.
Step 17: Finally.... READY!
Whoooooh now we've done everything!
Oh Wait, we'll need to present them and take some nice photos too.
The inside of the pumpkin cake is nice and moist. It's the perfect decoration or dessert for autumn or festivals.
Step 18: Don't Forget Our Cake Pops...
Some close up photos for our cake pops as well!
No wastage of your off cut cakes, and kids will love these. Also it's easier to make different colour cake pops to add some depth of your decoration. You can bite into them and the pumpkin taste is really standing out.
Hope you will like this Instructable and will now have some inspiration decorating your Halloween or Thanksgiving table!
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