I always have some canned pumpkin puree on hand, partially because I have an irrational fear of not being able to get hold of any around Thanksgiving. Visions of empty supermarket shelves plague me. Well, this year my fears have been justified: the press has announced the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015, with pumpkin crops
down by about half and making the supply of canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving tight. So, make sure you buy a few cans next time you’re at the store – Thanksgiving is just not the same without pumpkin pie, after all. And there are other great uses for it, as in this moist pumpkin cake. It’s a casual sort of cake, great for lunch, brunch,
snacking or bringing to a friend’s house. I top it with a creamy White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, and a sprinkling of candied walnuts. Serve the cake right from the pan, at room temperature.
Makes 9 servings
Pumpkin Walnut Cake:
1 3/4 cups (7 oz/200 g) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (5.3 oz/150 g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5.7 oz/163 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) flavorless vegetable oil (such as safflower oil)
1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin puree
1/3 cup (80 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (2.6 oz/75 g) walnuts, coarsely chopped, toasted
1/2 cup (50 g/1.76 oz) pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon (4 g/0.14 oz) vanilla extract
2 teaspoons (8 g/0.3 oz) granulated sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (104 g) confectioners’ sugar
Make the cake:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan very well.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine well and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs with both sugars at medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes. Add the oil, pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until blended. Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, mixing just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
4. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan, set on a wire rack.
Make the candied nuts:
5. Place the pecans or walnuts in a small bowl and toss well with the vanilla, sugar and salt. Scatter the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, tossing them once during baking, until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Make the frosting:
6. Melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and separate the top of the double boiler from the bottom. Set aside to cool slightly.
7. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the melted white chocolate and mix until blended. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar and mix until blended. Increase the speed to high and beat until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Use the frosting immediately, as it will begin to harden quickly.
Frost the cake:
8. Spread the top of the cooled cake with the frosting using a small metal spatula. Sprinkle the candied nuts on top. Serve squares of the cake from the pan.