Gray, drizzly weather all day today, a perfect day for curling up with a good read, candles lit, a good cup of Chai tea, and for baking a cake with the fragrances and flavors of Fall. Bright blue skies, burnished golden and auburn-colored leaves, wind stirring up the leaves as I walk, cool air, scarf about my neck, the fragrance of burning fireplaces. hot apple cider… These are, of course, my fantasies today, and memories of October in Boston! I am in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the highs are still in the 80s, the lows in the 70s, and certainly no fires in fireplaces yet, although I live in neighborhood where that does occur just as soon as the temperatures drop below 68! My mood for all things Autumnal precedes the onset of Fall weather here!
Today, I am in the mood to bake a cake full of flavors and fragrances that I associate with Autumn–a Pumpkin-Gingerbread Cake. This is a moist, tender cake full of warm spiciness that I love to serve for a Thanksgiving Day dessert, topped with Cream Cheese Icing and finely chopped crystallized ginger, or for Christmas events, topped with a Toffee-Caramel topping that oozes down the sides of the cake. The important tip here is to use the very best, freshest spices. Once spices are ground, the oils begin to lose flavor. So, I purchase spices in small quantities from a source that freshly grinds their spices weekly, so I know that they have not been lingering on a grocery store shelf for a year. If you have never tried crystallized ginger, take a taste–I love the sweet, lemony, ginger flavor and use it in scones, cookies, or to top cakes.
Susan’s Pumpkin-Gingerbread Cake
Yields 1 9 inch Bundt cake
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur Organic)
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (I used Savory Spice Shop Chinese Ground Ginger)
2 teaspoons Cinnamon (I used Savory Spice Shop Ceylon Cinnamon)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I like Savory Spice Shop Granada Nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure orange extract
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (I use Kerrygold)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in rum for an hour and then drained
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly butter and flour your bundt pan. If you do not have a bundt pan, you can use a 9 inch spring-form, but the baking time may be altered.
Whisk together in a large bowl the flour, spices and baking powder and soda and the salt.
Boil the 1 cup of water and add the molasses to it. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs to the butter-sugar, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, until light and thick.
Add the pumpkin puree and extract while beating on low speed.
Add the cooled molasses mixture on low speed and beat until well-blended.
Stir in the dry ingredients with the drained raisins, mixing until just combined. Do not over-mix.
Pour into your prepared pan, This is a relatively thin batter. It is a light, tender cake.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes for a Bundt pan. If you us a different 9 inch pan, I suggest checking it for doneness at 30 minutes.
Cool it for about 10 minutes, and then invert onto your cake plate.
Cream Cheese Icing
Yields enough to top the cake.
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 Tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon dark rum
a little half and half to achieve the proper consistency
Beat all of the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl, beginning at low speed, so that you do not throw confectioners sugar all about the kitchen! Use the half and half to achieve a consistency that is thick, but will allow you to mound the icing on top of the cake. make certain that the cake has cooled prior to icing it.
I garnished the icing with 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger.
This cake is a deep, dark, gingerbread-like color, but will be enjoyed by even those who dislike gingerbread, because the dark molasses flavor is tempered by the pumpkin. The cake is moist, light in texture, and warm with spiciness. The cream cheese icing adds a sweet, creamy finish.
You can tinker with this recipe, omitting the rum-soaked raisins and simply using raisins, if you wish. The spices are really lively in this cake, so you can reduce the amounts of the spices, or substitute just cloves for the Allspice, is you are not an Allspice fan.
Sticky Toffee Glaze, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, from Martha Stewart Living 2007–my copy is sticky and dog-eared!
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon water
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
Toffee bits for garnish
Bring the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to a boil over medium low heat in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally.
Boil for 3 minutes, and then remove from the heat.
Whisk in the cream.
Allow the glaze to cool for about 15 minutes.
Pour the glaze over the cake, and garnish with the toffee, bits, 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on your taste!
Martha makes a version of this glaze, where she whisks in 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped after she whisks in the cream, and she adds a Tablespoon or so of brandy. I imagine this would be a very good glaze for a Pumpkin Bundt Cake!
Readers, I would love to hear about your favorite aspects of Fall, about your favorite desserts for Thanksgiving Day or for any Autumn day. Please let me know if you try this cake recipe and about your outcome. The Comments box is locate at the conclusion of each post.
Just a reminder that any brands that I mention in recipes are simply my personal preferences. I do not represent any brands, nor do I receive payment for posts. Always use your preferred brands and products from your trusted sources–and let me know who they are!