Every once in a while we need to push ourselves outside our culinary comfort zones and bake something that is both challenging and spectacular. This dessert is a great place for you all to start: a moist flavorful pumpkin cake crusted with caramel coated pecans and topped with an orange cream cheese frosting with a hint of cinnamon.
The key to good baking is simple: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.
For a beginner, deviating from the recipe can mean the difference between a GREAT cake and baking disaster.
Stick to instructions and you'll get a perfect cake every time.
Here’s How You Do It
Difficulty Level: Hard
Prep time: 25 Minutes
Baking time: 35 Minutes
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
1 Cup of Canned Puréed Pumpkin
2/3 Cup Greek Yogurt
1 Cup of Full Fat Milk
1 ¾ Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon of Nutmeg – Freshly Grated is ideal, but ground is fine
¼ Teaspoon of Vanilla
Butter – for greasing the baking pans
1 Cup of Crushed Pecans – You can buy pecans already chopped or crushed, but you can save money by buying pecan halves, putting them in a zip top bag and bashing them with a hammer, meat mallet, or wine bottle. Try it, it’s good for stress.
1 Cup of Whipping Cream
1 Cup of Sugar – Brown sugar is ideal, but you can use white too
1 Cup of Butter
½ Teaspoon of Salt
1 Cup Softened Cream Cheese
¾ Cup Butter
2 Cups Icing Sugar
4 Tablespoons Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
1/2 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
Pecan Halves for Decoration - Optional
Measuring Cups and Spoons
3 Mixing Bowls
1 Medium Sized Pot
1 Wooden Spoon
1 Sifter aka Fine Mesh Sieve
2 Round Baking Pans
2 Plates slightly larger than your baking pans
1 Butter Knife
1 Large Spoon, Ice Cream Scoop, or Ladle (optional)
In your first mixing bowl, stir together the puréed pumpkin, yogurt, and milk. Set the bowl aside.
Put your sifter above the second mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gently shake the sifter above the bowl until all the powders are in it.
In your third bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Add 1/4 of the pumpkin mixture to the bowl with the oil mixture and stir to combine.
Add 1/4 of the Flour mixture and stir to combine.
Repeat the process, gently mixing until all the wet and dry ingredients have combined with the eggs, sugar and oil to form a nice cake batter.
Preheat the oven to 350 oF.
Grease your baking pans.
While the oven is preheating, start your praline mix.
In a pot on medium heat, combine the whipping cream, sugar, and butter, stirring with a wooden spoon until they are combined so much you can’t tell them apart.
Stir in the pecans and pour half into the bottom of one baking pan and the other half into the other.
CAREFULLY, using a ladle, ice cream scoop, or large spoon, spoon the cake batter over the caramel pecan mix in the baking pan.
Put the pans in the oven and bake for the 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Run your butter knife around the edge of each cake to loosen it and then put a plate on top of each pan. Holding the plate TIGHTLY to the baking pan, flip the pan over and shake it slightly over the plate to loosen the first cake layer. Do the same with the other.
Presto! You have 2 cake layers crusted with pralines!
Let your cakes cool while you make the frosting.
Clean and dry your whisk and one of your mixing bowls.
Dump the cream cheese into the bowl with the butter and mix until it’s creamy and combined.
Add the icing sugar and cinnamon and mix gently at first as icing sugar tends to fly everywhere. Then increase your speed until the icing sugar is combined with the butter and cream cheese.
Add the orange juice concentrate, vanilla, and salt and mix again. You could do this with an electric mixer but they can be pricy and come with the risk of over mixing the frosting.
Stick the frosting in the fridge until the cakes are completely cool.
Spread some frosting on one layer.
CAREFULLY put the other layer on top and spread on some more frosting. You can hide any cracks in the cake with frosting too.
Decorate with pecans if you wish and serve!
-Samantha R. Gold
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