Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pumpkin Upside Down Cake revisited

Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake with Caramelized Pecans and Cranberries - made November 15 and November 17, 2017 from A Passion for Desserts by Emily Luchetti
First attempt this year - caramel came out too thick
I make this cake every year around Thanksgiving, sometimes on the day itself and other times by request. This year, I made it twice, once for a Thanksgiving work potluck last week and once for my niece's birthday. The work potluck came first and I hadn't made this in almost a year so I forgot not to overcook the caramel. Oops.
First attempt, second cake, same too-thick caramel
So I'm blogging this again to remind myself how to do it right. I'm so used to letting butter and brown sugar boil together, whisking smoothly, for a couple of minutes that I forgot you're not supposed to do that with the caramel in this recipe. The first batch I made for work, the caramel came out too thick. You can see the error of my ways in the pictures. Sigh. I also underbaked one of the cakes just a tad too much and had to rely on just using the outer edges. Fortunately I had made two cakes for the work potluck and I had enough of the second one, which I had baked properly, to round out my contribution to the potluck. But they were definitely not up to standard. The cake itself tasted good but the thick caramel was more like a grainy penuche covering over the pecans. Cringe.
My second attempt - this is how it should look
I had a second chance to redeem myself because one of my nieces was coming for a visit and she had requested this cake. This time I made a half batch of caramel for one recipe of cake and only heated and whisked the butter and brown sugar together until the brown sugar was melted and the mixture was combined. Then that puppy came off the stove before I could overcook it again.
Since I'm not a big fan of cranberries and only ever eat them when I make this cake, I made myself a little individual-sized cake in a ramekin with just the caramel and pecans on the bottom. When I baked the little cake and turned it over, it made a pretty dessert that I'm considering serving at my holiday dessert party (more to come on that). It was also freaking delicious because I got the caramel right this time. So note to self: make only a half batch of caramel for one cake recipe and only heat the butter and brown sugar, whisking until melted and combined but not a minute longer.
8 ounces (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups cranberries
4 ounces (1 cup) coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Pour the brown sugar mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries and pecans. Place them in the pan over the brown sugar mixture.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, and oil. In another bowl, sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Carefully spread the batter over the cranberry pecan topping.
  5. Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Place a large plate or platter on top of the cake. Invert the cake and plate together, then remove the pan. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.
  6. Let cool completely before serving.

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