Pumpkin Cake with Brown Sugar Icing - originally made on 12.31.08
Since I dissed pumpkin for so many years, I feel the need to atone by blogging about some of the great pumpkin recipes I've discovered once I got over my mental block about pumpkin. This is a pumpkin cake with brown sugar icing - yeah, it's as rich as it sounds. This is from Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans which is a recipe book I've really enjoyed trying recipes from. Elinor Klivans has some other books but I've found one of her cookie books to be pretty much all the same recipe with minor variations of the mix-ins you add to it. One recipe has the same ingredients except you add milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet or throw in white chocolate chips too and she seems to consider that 3 different recipes. (Read: ripoff if you buy the cookbook.) Not so with Fearless Baking. I've gotten some good recipes from it, including this one.
The cake itself is super easy to make. The only liberty I took with it is the recipe calls for adding the pecans on top once you have the batter in the pan. Previous experience has taught me that even if you add the nuts to the top, while baking, the nuts will sink into the cake anyway and once again we have that I-don't-like-nuts-in-cakes problem. So I waited until the cake was almost done then added the pecans to it so they would stay on top and not sink into the cake. It worked.
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup canola or corn oil
2 large eggs
¾ cup pecan halves
Brown Sugar Icing
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1. Mix the cake: Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter or rub with oil the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 x 2-inch or 11 x 7 x 2-inch pan.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger onto a piece of wax paper or into a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Put the pumpkin, granulated sugar, and oil in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to blend each thoroughly into the mixture. The mixture looks smooth and shiny. Decrease the speed to low and add the flour mixture. The batter is ready when the flour is mixed completely into the batter. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter from the bowl and spread it evenly in the prepared pan. Scatter the pecans evenly over the top.
4. Bake the cake: Bake just until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. The cake can be iced when it is warm or has cooled, but let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before adding the icing. Use a small knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan before adding the icing.
5. Make the icing: Put the butter, cream, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and cool over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, stirring often. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla just to blend it into the mixture. Set aside to cool slightly for about 30 minutes. Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Pour the slightly cooled sauce over it and use a whisk or electric mixer to beat the icing smooth, about 1 minute or less. It will change from a brown to a light brown color. Immediately pour the icing over the cake in the pan. Use a metal spatula to spread it evenly, if necessary. If the cake is warm, the icing spreads by itself. Icing will drip down around the edges of the pan and thinly coat the sides of the cake. This is good. Cool the cake and icing thoroughly, about 3 hours, but mark the portions in the top of the icing as soon as it is firm enough to hold the mark. Cut the cake into 9 squares. A thin metal spatula and a pancake turner work well together to help lift the cake squares from the pan. Serve the cake cold or at room temperature.