Spiced Pumpkin Cake Mexican Style
Cooking Time: 45 Minutes Makes 12/16 servings
Autumn gives me this feeling of home, the warmth of the fireplace and the smell of spices. Outside is raining and I realize that even though the current wife is home today, after almost 30 years of unparalleled happiness she is doing her thing and I am doing mine. Happiness I tell you.
Just last week after the mysterious case of the disappearing Chocolate Madeleines, at the moment still unsolved (I baked 2 dozen and the day after they just disappeared and the only one around is the wife who denies even touching them), I decided to finally use my pumpkin shaped blunt cake mold that I got on sale at William Sonoma last year. You can not say that I'm not patient!
Spices can be a bit delicate becasue if you just add a bit too much of any...the end result is a disaster, and this cake has plenty of spices, so the risk of failure was high. The recipe I got from William Sonoma as the combo of spices, candied ginger and toasted walnuts made it special. The rest of the recipe looked OK to me, so I went for it with a big BUT....
I do like spices, I do like some Fall flavors BUT I do not like pumpkin flavor. You will never see in this website any recipe that calls for the flat taste of pumpkin (pumpkin cheese cake....NO!). My reasoning of this dislike I place it in the heritage of the foods and flavor tastes of when I was a kid. I am fully convinced that one likes what one had as a child, as if the taste buds develop when you are growing up.
I grew up in Mexico City as you probably know by now. In Mexico pumpkin is not a big thing. We eat its flowers (the weird current wife does...big time) and we eat the whole thing near Day of the Dead BUT barbecued-candied (they call it "calabaza en tacha"). That I like. As the Calabaza en Tacha calls for Piloncillo (unrefined raw cane sugar) I decided to modify the recipe to please my taste buds. The end result was absolutely fantastic! How do I know it was so good you might ask?... I know because the Queen of the Secret Circle eat a whole slice... a whole slice!. Unheard of...
So, here is the recipe. You can use any blunt cake mold, but if you have the one I used...then the wow factor reaches the roof.
Spiced Pumpkin Cake Mexican Style
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1 1/4 Tsp. salt
2 1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 Tsp. ground ginger
3/4 Tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 Tsp. ground allspice
1/8 Tsp. ground cloves
1 1/4 (150 g) Sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 Cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
3 Eggs room temperature
1/3 Cup milk, room temperature
2/3 Cup Piloncillo* Syrup (or molasses)
1 1/4 Cups Mexican Style pumpkin puree** (or pumpkin puree)
2/3 Cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 Cup diced crystallized ginger
For the frosting:
8 oz. (225 g) Cream cheese, room temperature
1 (115 g) Stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 Tsp. vanilla extract
Food coloring as desired
Mexican unrefined cane sugar (AKA Panela sugar)
* From pureed Calabaza en Tacha -Mexican Dia de los Muertos' food-
1. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously grease and flour the wells of the great pumpkin cake pan, if you have one, otherwise any blunt cake pan will do; tap out excess flour.
2. To make the cake, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves; set aside.
3. In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes…NOT LESS THAN THAT! , stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the piloncillo or molasses syrup and beginning and ending with the milk, then the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the roasted walnuts and crystallized ginger until incorporated. The batter should look and feel heavy but not dry. If it feels dry just add a bit of milk, incorporate and check again…
6. Divide the batter between the wells of the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Tap vigorously the pan against the kitchen counter to eliminate air bubbles.
7. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cake half comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Mine takes a bit longer… about 15 minutes longer.
8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake halves cool upright in the pan for 15-30 minutes.
9. Gently tap the pan on a work surface to loosen the cake halves. Carefully invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake halves cool completely before decorating, about 2 hours.
10. Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
11. Using a bread knife, cut 1/4 inch off the flat side of each cake half, or enough so the two flat sides can coincide. Place one cake half, (if you have the pumpkin mold the bottom part of the pumpkin) flat side up, on a cake stand or plate and spread the pumpkin frosting on top. Place the other cake half, flat side down, on top.
12. Add food coloring as desired to the reserved frosting (green for leaves and tendrils). To create leaves and tendrils, using a rubber spatula, transfer the green frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a leaf or medium plain tip. Pipe leaves and tendrils on the top of the cake.
13. I melted a bit of butter, painted the cake with the melted butter and sprinkled the cake with a mix of sugar/cinnamon. That is optional though!