Spiced Pumpkin Cake

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I am not much of a baker (of desserts, that is), even though I have the biggest sweet tooth. Though, for the holidays I do like to bake batches of simple pumpkin pie and give it out to friends and family. It’s my hostess present. Since I have been a little more adventurous in the kitchen, I wanted to try baking something pumpkiny other than a pie. I decided to give this recipe a try, which was inspired by Paula Deen’s recipe. At the second time making it, I tweaked it to make it a little more spicy. I had never made my own frosting before, but after making this really, really simple cream cheese frosting, I was hooked! It’s tough to find unprocessed cream cheese at the regular grocery store, so I bought it from Whole Foods. I used all organic ingredients, except for the sugar, canola oil, baking powder and baking soda.

I was running late for SF Food Wars Ultimate Cocktail Brunch, so I quickly made this cake for Satish to take to a friend’s going away potluck brunch. Just mixing the batter and putting it in the oven only took me about 10 minutes. Since I did not have time to let the cake cool and frost it myself, I left it all up to Satish and prayed for the best. He actually made the frosting while I got ready…it was that easy. The cake was out of the oven before I even had my boots on, so I got to direct Satish how to put the cake on cooling rack for faster cooling. I love making food that doesn’t take much effort.

This cake is a light alternative to a traditional pumpkin pie and pairs well with Traditional Chai, Pumpkin Chai or Indian-Spiced Pumpkin Latte!

Ingredients:
Cake
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
15 ounces pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground star anise
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

All of the ingredients needed to make the cake and frosting. 

Eggs help bind all of the ingredients together. 

Baking requires precision! 

Combine all wet ingredients first and then pour in the mixed dry ingredients. 

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
2. Mix the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin with a mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt into another bowl.
4. Pour flour mixture into pumpkin mixture slowly and mix until incorporated and smooth.
5. Pour the batter into the baking dish and level out the batter.
6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the dish or frosting, about 15 minutes.
8. While cake is baking, make the frosting. Combine cream cheese and butter in a bowl and mix until smooth with a fork, whisk or electric mixer. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the sugar slowly until you reach the desired consistency and level of sweetness. Stir in the vanilla and mix well.
9. When the cake has cooled, spread the frosting over the cake generously using a butter-knife or icing spatula. Sprinkle walnuts over the frosting.

I used a large, shallow baking sheet to yield a thinner cake that baked faster. You could easily use a 9×13 pan to get a thicker cake. 

Satish made the cream cheese frosting using an electric mixer, but if the cream cheese and butter are softened enough, you can easily whip it with a fork. 

Satish dressed up the cake by sprinkling chopped walnuts over the frosting. 

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