You didn’t think I’d go through Halloween without making something containing pumpkin did you?
Funny that canned pumpkin is not generally available in the UK, in fact I don’t think that we ever used to see pumpkins in supermarkets even just a few years back. When I was younger at Halloween, it wasn’t the giant orange squash that was hollowed out for the season, but turnips – or neeps as we call them in Scotland. Can you imagine trying to carve one of those? Not easy, as they are solid, I think a chisel was probably the order of the day then.
Luckily nowadays, pumpkins are in every supermarket at this time of year, but very few I am guessing are used in the kitchen. And still no canned pumpkin on our shores, unless you purchase it online or find an American food stockist. To get pureed pumpkin (which is needed for this recipe) is actually very easy to do with the actual gourd itself. Instructions are available over at Smitten Kitchen. I have done this in the past and made lovely pumpkin pie.
I had a couple of cans of pumpkin lurking in my cupboard and put one to use in this recipe, which I have adapted from one I found online elsewhere (can’t remember where!). I wanted to make a cake as Halloween is actually Disneyboi’s birthday and we were also having a family get together with my nephews, so knew they would love it too.
The recipe brings together moist layer cake, chocolate chips and spices commonly found in pumpkin pie. If there is anyone baulking at the thought of pumpkin in something sweet, it is really quite flavourless, but adds great moisture. It’s really the aforementioned spices that add the flavour. This cake uses the one bowl method (i.e. everything is dumped in together), which makes it nice ‘n’ easy!
You will notice in the pic above I have made little eyes to decorate the cake. This was just from experimenting with melted white chocolate, in eye shapes, allowed to set and then some melted dark chocolate on top to finish them off.
1 can pumpkin puree (or 425 grams)
3 large eggs
200 grams plain flour
120 ml vegetable oil
450 grams granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
100 grams plain chocolate chips
500 grams softened cream cheese (full-fat)
110 grams softened unsalted butter
1 kilograms icing sugar (I know, I know!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Orange food colouring
Preheat your oven to 180oC. Grease and line two 8” cake pans with greaseproof paper. Grease the paper and then sprinkle flour all over, tapping out any excess. This will ensure your cake does not stick at all!
In a large bowl, place the pumpkin puree, 3 eggs and oil beating well with a whisk until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Beat in the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger and finally (and slowly) fold in the flour, soda and baking powder until all incorporated. I dusted the chocolate chips with a bit of flour, which prevents them from sinking in the cake batter, before stirring them through the mix.
Divide the cake mix equally between the two cake pans (I was anal and actually weighed them) and tap them hard on the counter to get rid of any excess air bubbles. Pop into the middle rack of the oven for half an hour. After this time a toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake, if not pop back in for a few minutes. After having been out of the oven for 10 minutes, remove from the pans and allow to cool completely. I left mine overnight to harden slightly. This makes slicing each cake in half much easier and prevents it from crumbling. The cake is ready to frost.
In another large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add the icing sugar until it reaches a thickish spreadable consistency. Have some more icing sugar on stand-by in case it’s too loose. Finally stir through the cinnamon and add orange food colouring until you get a shade you are happy with.
Now, I am not an expert cake decorator; mine’s always look a bit haphazard! Using an offset spatula I spread some frosting on each layer, stacking them up. On the top I add more frosting and smooth it down the sides. I chilled this for about an hour, removed from the fridge and added another layer of frosting on top, before sticking the chocolate eyes into the cake.
As it is quite a tall cake, a good tip is to insert a bamboo skewer down the centre cutting off any extra. This prevents too much slippage. Alternatively, the batter can be put into cupcake cases and baked for about 12 minutes, which I did last year (when my frosting was way more orange?!) …
However, the cake is nice and moist with the pumpkin and vegetable oil (instead of butter). The plain chocolate is a nice compliment to the spices and the delicious frosting just finishes the cake perfectly. Enjoy!!