Although I really will not be celebrating today, my apartment complex did have a Halloween party earlier this week. The party also featured a contest for the best food item made with pumpkin. So, I decided to bake a pumpkin cake to both enter the contest and practice my cake assembly/icing skills further.
I used a recipe from Martha Stewart's website for the cake and then modified the cream cheese icing we use in my Intro to Cakes class for the frosting.
I made the cake the night before the party and planned to ice it after I was done with class for the day. During my final class of the day, I had a sudden inspirational thought: Why not use caramel in the cake decoration as well? I knew I should have made the caramel myself (it's really pretty simple) but I was short on time, and most of all, I didn't want to do the dishes from making it. I end up doing a lot of dishes in Culinary School and really dislike doing them again when I get home..... So, I bought a jar of caramel sauce.
Oh well, it still tasted good. Instead of plain cream cheese icing, I decided to make a spiced cream cheese icing. I've grown up with a phenomenal pumpkin pie recipe, courtesy of my late Great Grandma, full of great spices that all compliment pumpkin quite well. I used those spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger) in the cake as well as in the icing.
I did slightly under-judge how much icing I would need for a 4 layer cake. And the jar of my caramel sauce came to my rescue! I used caramel between two of the layers and then cream cheese between only one of the layers (always pipe an icing "dam" though when using a less solid filling, such as caramel or a fruit curd etc.). Here's what it looked like after being sliced at the party. Sorry the lighting wasn't quite so great....
I had to leave the party early, so I haven't heard yet if I won, but everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy my cake!
Here's the recipe, modified from Martha Stewart's
Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Icing and Caramel Sauce
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups of granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
3 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk (I used cream, though because I was out of milk)
1 can of organic pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 2 8x2 inch round cake pans and 1 6x2 inch round cake pan. Line with parchment paper and butter the parchment as well.
2. Stir together the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt.
3. Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy in the bowl of of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add the pumpkin puree. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour into prepared pans and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Note that the smaller 6" cake will take less than the 8" cakes. The 8" cake should bake in around 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Spiced Cream Cheese Icing
12 oz softened cream cheese
8 oz softened unsalted butter (2 sticks)
4 oz powdered sugar
Sprinkle cinnamon, ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1. Add the spices to the powdered sugar and whisk to combine.
2. Cream the cream cheese and the spiced powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well combined. Do no over whip.
2. Add the softened butter and mix until combined.
p.s. Here's my halloween costume from the party! Do you get it? :)