Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cake by twocarolines.com

Pumpkin Spice Cake by twocarolines.com

Yes the pumpkin spice thing is really popular this time of year and probably getting a bit played, but don’t front like you don’t want to put this in your mouth.  Also, let’s not pretend you don’t have more than one can of pumpkin in your pantry right now dying to come out and make your house smell good.  I made it for my brothers family and they felt strongly that this was a cake you could easily eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, it didn’t last long.  It’s the perfect cake for Fall, all warm and cozy and tucked in nicely with a magical sweet/sour/touch of cinnamony cream cheese sweater.

pumpkin spice set up twocarolines.com

Pumpkin Spice Cake set up by twocarolines.com

Pumpkin Cake:
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamon

pumpkin spice cake prebake twocarolines.com

pumpkin cake before the bake by twocarolines.com

(if you don’t have all of these spices don’t get stressed out, just use a little more or less of something you do have until it tastes good.  I think clove is such a strong flavor that I used less of that and added cardamon which I love in baked goods, you could even use a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice instead of those last 3 if you’d like)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable or coconut
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites seperated

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 cup (or one stick) butter at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (but keep some extra on hand to make sure you get the right consistency)
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of cinnamon

For the Cake:

  1.  Preheat oven to 325 and position a rack in the center.  Butter a 9 inch round cake pan (if yours is 9.5 or 10 that’s okay, just start checking for doneness 10 minutes earlier). Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter that too.  If you’re making the frosting same day you might want to take out your butter and cream cheese so they can come up to room temp before it’s time to make frosting.
  2. Sift (if you’re really concerned about lumps, but I didn’t sift the first time and it was just as good) the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a bowl and set aside
  3. In a large bowl mix pumpkin, oil, sugar and salt for a good 3-4 minutes until it’s all combined.  Remember to periodically scrape down the sides of your bowl.
  4. Mix in egg yolks one at a time then add the dry ingredients but stop mixing as soon as the flour mixture is just combined.
  5. Whisk the three egg whites until they are frothy and white.  Fold them into the batter using a rubber spatula until they are no longer visible, but just barely, you want your whites to stay fluffy so your cake is springy.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake on the center rack in the oven.  Begin checking the cake after 40 minutes, could take up to 45 – the center will continue to set as the cake cools in the pan, but still don’t take it out until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cake cool at least 20 minutes before inverting it to a wire rack to completely cool.

For the Frosting:

  1. Beat together the butter and the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth with no dry traces of sugar.   You can use a little extra powdered sugar if you like your frosting thicker and sweeter, but I like the sourness of the cream cheese to come out as much as possible.  Add a pinch of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla and beat until incorporated.

I liked it best served with chopped walnuts, but the original recipe (link below) made carmalized pumpkin seeds, which would probably be boss, but I don’t usually have those lying around and nuts can be somewhat polarizing in a family with kids so I usually add them at serving time for grown ups and littles who have refined taste.  Let us know how you like it

Recipe adapted from Food 52 Sarah Jampel’s Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds

Hello Kitty Rainbow Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

img_2416My firstborn recently turned 7 – and like most 7 year old girls she is a big “Hello Kitty” fan.  I came across a cute hello kitty cake pan on wilton.com and decided to whoop it up as a special  birthday surprise.  I filled it with a rainbow cake and it looked so small and sad all alone that I made another rainbow cake which made it into a much more substantial and fancy rainbow layer cake.  I’m not talented as a decorator, my strengths are in making the most delicious cakes, not the most beautiful, but I’ve been working on it, and I’m going to go ahead and say this cake turned out super awesome!  I have to give Wilton credit because I just looked on the packaging that came on the pan as inspiration for how to frost the cake, but I did a few things my own way that paid off big time in the flavor department, which is obviously the most important!  You can fill it with any cake you like, but I’m going to give instructions for my easy delicious rainbow cake and cream cheese frosting.  And believe me, cutting into a double rainbow cake is such a fun and dramatic reveal – girls of a certain age are guaranteed to go nuts when you pull out the first slice!

For the cakes: 
2 boxes white cake mix – I use pillsbury classic white cake mix
1 cup butter melted (separated 1/2 cup or 1 stick per cake)
2 cups water (separated 1 cup per cake)
6 eggs (separated 3 eggs per cake) room temperature works best
food dye

For the Frosting: 
12 ounces cream cheese room temperature
10 tablespoons 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (sifted)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons whole milk or cream (if needed to thin a little)
black decorating gel
red or pink food dye
yellow food dye

  1. For the cake.  Prepare your pan by spraying it with baking spray or coating in butter and patting flour into the pan.  I find it works best to make one cake at a time.  I also think it’s helpful to use paper bowls for the colors, much less mess and they are easy to pour with.  Line up 6 bowls, spray them lightly with cooking spray so your batter dumps out easily.

    IMG_2395

    rainbow caking in the making by twocarolines.com

  2. In a large bowl mix 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup melted butter, and 3 eggs, add the cake mix.  Pour batter as evenly as you can between your 6 paper bowls (if you want to go all out you can weigh them but I found it quite easy to eyeball it).  In the first bowl put yellow food coloring until you achieve desired color and do the same for orange, red, purple, blue, and green.  Pour each color into your cake pan in order from the center.  Just pour one over another ending with the green.  Give it a good smack on the counter and without mixing your colors make sure the batter is in the ears of the mold.
  3. Bake for about 27-33 minutes, focus on doneness rather than bake time.  Cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean and your cake has started to barely pull from the sides of the pan.  Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so then turn out on to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Once cool cut off the round top (treat for later!) and place kitty face side up on to your cake board, stand or serving plate.
  4. To make your next rainbow cake repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.
  5. To make the frosting, cream the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla then add the sifted powdered sugar.  If your frosting seems too thick put a teaspoon of whole milk or cream in with it.
  6. To frost the cake.  On your first cake that is cut side down, kitty side up, plop a fairly generous (3/4 cup or so at least) heap of frosting on the top and spread evenly touching your spatula to the frosting only and not the cake.  Take about 1/2 cup frosting and mix with red or pink food dye to make the bow color.  Take about a tablespoon or two and mix with yellow to make the nose color.  I used a parchment piping bag for the yellow and put the pink into a piping bag with a small star tip – wilton recommends tip 16, but I eyeballed it and it worked out.  Place the second layer and now go step by step for the kitty frosting detail.
    1. First fill in the inside loop of the bow, I used the star tip and smoothed it out with my spatula (not a perfectionist obviously).
    2. Outline the inside and outside loop of the bow and the knot with the black decorating gel.
    3. Fill in the rest of the stars with your pink frosting.  Be sure to apply even pressure and lift the bag off only after you’ve stopped pushing or your stars will be weird and pointy.
    4. Use a parchment bag, a plastic bag with a hole cut or even just your frosting spatula to fill in the yellow nose and smooth it out
    5. Use the black decorating gel to fill in the eyes.
    6. Use the black decorating gel to fill in the whiskers
    7. Fill a large piping bag with a small star tip – wilton recommends 16 (I pull the sides up over a tall vase to fill it then fold them over) with all the rest of your white cream cheese frosting.
    8. Pipe stars all over the head of your kitty trying not to leave too many gaps (as you can see if you compare, mine had way more gaps than wilton’s, but it still looked awesome).  This takes a minute, but it’s not to hard.
    9. Once I had piped out the stars I filled in the black a little better here and there.
    10. To frost the sides of your cake, either take what’s left in your bag and spread it onto the sides with a frosting spatula, or pipe it evenly around your cake.  I tried this, but couldn’t keep my hand steady enough so I ended up smoothing it with the spatula after I piped it and it looked great.  Enjoy!
IMG_2423

rainbow layer cake by twocarolines.com

Frosting recipe Martha Stewart Cream Cheese Frosting from Martha Stewart Cakes book.  Cake pan and decoration technique by wilton.com.  Go to this Hello Kitty Cake Pan instructions link for more professional detailed decorating info.