For pumpkin cake, just whisk and bake
No one loves pumpkin pie more than I do, but sometimes it’s fun to try an even easier pumpkin sweet, such as the cake below.
Pumpkin is used in many dishes all over the world, but aside from a few Middle Eastern desserts of cubes of sweetened pumpkin, most of them are savory recipes. We Americans are among the few who love elaborate pumpkin sweets.
It has become stylish to use fresh pumpkin for pies and cakes, but unless you use a pie pumpkin, you’ll get a watery puree that’s low in pumpkin flavor. For this reason, I prefer to use canned pumpkin, which also makes it possible to prepare this cake when fresh pumpkins aren’t in season. If you absolutely have to use a fresh vegetable, then use cooked, pureed winter squash (but not spaghetti squash) or baked, peeled and pureed sweet potatoes.
On to the pumpkin cake: This one is so easy, you don’t even need an electric mixer to prepare it. If you don’t have a tube pan, bake the batter in a 9-inch by 13-inch by 2-inch pan and cut it in squares to serve. And you can bake it a few days in advance; wrap and refrigerate the cake, and bring it to room temperature before serving. You’ll find yourself becoming a pumpkin addict like me.
Pureed pumpkin makes a wonderfully moist cake, and I particularly love this version of because it echoes the flavors of a pumpkin pie, which is near the top of my list of favorite desserts. Thanks to my dear friend, baking teacher and author Carole Walter, for allowing me to adapt this recipe from her book “Great Cakes” (Ballantine Books, 1992), for which I wrote the preface.
• Butter, for greasing cake pan
• Bread crumbs, for coating cake pan
• Vegetable cooking spray, for additional coating of cake pan
• 3 cups all-purpose flour (spoon the flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
• 2 cups (1 pound) canned pumpkin puree
• 5 large eggs
• 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
• Confectioners’ sugar, optional
• Sweetened whipped cream, optional
Coat a buttered 10-inch (16-cup) Bundt pan with dry bread crumbs and coat with vegetable cooking spray
Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 350 degrees.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl and whisk to mix; set aside.
Place the brown sugar in a mixing bowl and use a large rubber spatula to work in about 1/3 of the pumpkin a little at a time, until there are no lumps of brown sugar. Use a whisk to incorporate the remaining pumpkin, the eggs and the oil, adding them one at a time and stirring to combine between additions.
Whisk in the dry ingredients a third at a time.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until well risen and the point of a knife inserted between the edge of the pan and the central tube emerges clean, for 60 to 70 minutes.
Let the cake stand in the pan for 5 minutes, then unmold to a rack and cool completely.
Serve the cake with confectioners’ sugar sprinkled on the top, and/or with some sweetened whipped cream. Store under a cake dome or wrap in plastic and freeze for longer storage.
Makes a 10-inch Bundt or tube cake, about 16 servings.