Happy New Year! I am still adjusting back to real life after an amazing Christmas with family and friends. I have already had 10 glorious days off from work (and a couple left!), and lots of time spent with the most important people in my life. After having Christmas with my family, I hopped on a plane and joined honey and his family in Manitoba for 5 more days of rest and relaxation. It was so great to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and lounge around on a farm for a few days. Thanks to all who made it memorable!
January usually brings with it a sense of dread – the holiday season is over, yet we still have 4 months (or more) of winter left! Yuck. But somehow, we manage to make it through each year, and I know that this year will be no different. I’m sure that planning a trip to an exotic location wouldn’t hurt either…
Over the holidays, I made this pumpkin spice layer cake and brought it to Christmas dinner at my aunt’s house. The cake was deliciously moist, and the caramel and cream cheese frosting added a wonderful richness. This would be a great dessert year round, but especially over fall and winter because of the warm spicy pumpkin flavor. Happy eating!
Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Caramel and Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Bon Appétit, Nov. 2008)
For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
For the frosting:
4 cups icing sugar, divided
1/2 cup plus 1 TBSP. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans, tapping out any excess flour. Whisk first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the pumpkin, sugar, and oil in another large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate between additions. Mix in the orange peel. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Divide the batter between prepared pans. Bake the cakes for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack, then turn top side up and cool completely.
For the frosting: Sprinkle 1/2 cup of icing sugar over the bottom of a non-stick skillet. Cook over medium heat until the sugar melts (do not stir). Continue cooking until the sugar turns a deep amber color, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Carefully stir in 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Stir in remaining 1 TBSP. cream. Strain into a small bowl. Cool caramel to room temperature.
Sift 2 cups of icing sugar into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Beat in cooled caramel. Gradually add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar until a good icing consistency is reached (you may not need to use all of the sugar). Cover and chill the frosting until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours.
Using a long serrated knife, trim rounded tops from cakes. Place one cake layer on the cake plate, cut side up. Spread 3/4 cup of frosting over top. Place second cake layer, cut side down, atop frosting. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, creating a smooth surface. You can make this up to two days ahead. Cover the cake and chill in fridge. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving. For an extra garnish, sprinkle candied orange peel over the top of the cake (which I could not find anywhere!).