Pumpkin cake and the Brussels sprouts reprised

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

lovely cake on a lovely table

lovely cake on a lovely table

D, J, and I spent Thanksgiving with my family.  Because they host Thanksgiving, I often just cook whatever is needed to fill in the gaps in the menu.  This year, that meant two cranberry sauces: the one from the Ocean Spray bag and a cranberry chutney.  The chutney was good and made an obscene amount of food.  Seriously.  Watch out everyone I know, you’re getting a jar of chutney for Christmas.

I was also in charge of bringing a non-starchy vegetable.  I made the Brussels sprouts salad again.  It scaled up pretty well, and, wouldn’t you know it, there were make-ahead instructions on another page!  I wrongly maligned that recipe.  You blanch the brussels sprouts and toast the pine nuts the day before.  That leaves only the dressing and slicing the apples the day of.

Another beautiful dish in a beautiful dish

Another beautiful dish in a beautiful dish

Pumpkin layer cake (recipe after the jump)

The real star of the show was the pumpkin cake.  Now, we had desserts more than covered.  We had a maple walnut pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, red velvet cake, pumpkin truffles, and a cheesecake.  But…when else was I going to make a giant layer cake?  My sister already rejected the idea of having it for her birthday next Sunday, so I piled on yet another dessert.  Nobody was mad.  This was a popular cake.  It’s very easy to bake and keeps wonderfully overnight.  I think the pumpkin pie spice in the cream cheese frosting (yeah, you read that right) really did add something.  I wouldn’t call it optional.  The cake was very moist.  I guess it reminded me a lot of pumpkin pancakes!  Giant pumpkin pancakes with cream cheese frosting.  You’re gonna want that.  Oh, one tip: the recipe says to use an electric mixer to make the batter and the frosting.  Incorrect.  Bust out the Kitchen Aid and the paddle attachment.  You’ll want the firepower of a stand mixer to get through all that butter and cream cheese.  Also, it’s a lot of batter.  Your arms will be glad you used ol’ Kitchy.

It just looks moist, doesn't it?  Gotta love pumpkin

It just looks moist, doesn’t it? Gotta love pumpkin

Oh, and check out the cheese from my trip to see B!

Cabot aged cheddar, buffalo wing sauce cheddar, everything bagel cheddar.

Cabot aged cheddar, buffalo wing sauce cheddar, everything bagel cheddar.

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever and whoever you are.

Pumpkin layer cake

adapted from Everyday Food November 2007 issue #47 p. 117

  • 1 c unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans (old-school pro tip: save your butter wrappers for times like Thanksgiving when you need to butter a lot of pans)
  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 T pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling and for the cream cheese frosting (to make 1 T: combine 1 t cinnamon, 1 t ginger, 1/4 t nutmeg, 1/4 t all-spice.  To make the extra for the frosting, sprinkling, and having around to put on ice cream or something glam like that: combine 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t ginger, 1/8 t nutmeg, 1/8 t all-spice)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t table salt
  • 2 c white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • Creamy spiced frosting, see below
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans.  Line bottom of pans with a round of parchment paper; butter the paper.  EF says to flour the pans.  I totally forgot and nothing terrible happened.  There’s enough butter in this recipe that it pops out without any drama.  Plus, I think it made it easier to frost the cake because there weren’t those weird sheets of floury crumbs.  Not that I skipped the crumb layer.  You KNOW I did I crumb layer!  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin-pie spice (just the 1T here), baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping occasionally.  Beat in pumpkin puree.  With mixer on low, gradually add flour a heaping soup spoon at a time; mix until just combined.
  3. Divide batter between prepared pans.  Smooth tops the fun way: drop them on the counter from about 4-6 inches up in the air.  You get rid of bubbles and make a satisfying metallic thunk noise.  Bake until a toothpick in center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes (mine took 45).  Cool 15 minutes in the pans; run a knife around edge of pans, and cool the rest of the way on wire racks.
  4. Place a few strips of wax or parchment paper around the outside of the cake platter you plan to use.  Place the bottom layer gently on top of this wreath of paper.  Do the filling.  Place the second layer on top.  Do the crumb coat: put on a very thin layer of frosting over the whole cake.  Then, starting from the top of the cake, push the frosting around and down the sides.  Once the cake is frosted, sprinkle some extra pumpkin pie spice on top.  Gently pull the strips of waxed paper out from under the cake.  (Everyday Food has you frosting the entire thing on a rack and then using two large spatulas to transfer it to a platter.  That’s just ignorant)

Creamy spiced frosting

In the stand mixer again, using the paddle attachment, beat together 1 c room-temperature unsalted butter and 1 bar (8 ounces) room temperature cream cheese until smooth; gradually beat in 1 pound powdered sugar until smooth.  Mix in 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice.

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