A Dessert For Thanksgiving

Friday, November 18, 2011

Perhaps you aren't like me and you actually look forward to eating the same old Thanksgiving dessert standbys every year. Perhaps as a youngster you were sitting at the kiddy table patiently waiting to gobble up your piece of pumpkin pie smothered in fresh whipped cream. Me? No, that wasn't me. As a child, I hated pumpkin and pecan pie, and wouldn't even consider having a taste so much as a slice. My mom always discouraged us from using the word, hate. It's a very strong word. So, when I say I hated pumpkin and pecan pie, I meant it with strength. My taste buds weren't keen on squash and yams so putting them into a dessert literally made me gag. And pecan pie, well, I wasn't a fan of nuts back in the day and the combo of sickeningly sweet goop with a bunch of nuts...

These days though, my pallet is certainly more expansive than when I was ten and now I really love nuts, especially in desserts. I also now like and eat plenty of Fall's squashes, pumpkin and yams each year,(but will admit I am picky about them). As for pumpkin pie, I am a still not a fan. And my reasons go way beyond that there's no chocolate.

So, in the case you are like me and you aren't counting down the days until you get to be that kid gobbling up your piece of pumpkin pie, here is a perfect dessert to add to your Thanksgiving table this year. Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting. This recipe is adapted from the November 2009 Bon Appetit Magazine. I made this cake a few years ago and featured it on Mon Petit Plat. It's perfect for the holidays - Thanksgiving and beyond, and I imagine pumpkin pie fans and haters alike will certainly enjoy it. The pumpkin flavor is mild but lends itself to a moist and fluffy cake. The hint of orange in the cream cheese frosting is refreshing and takes out any remaining pumpkin "gagginess." I for one would be perfectly content with this layer cake taking the place of Thanksgiving desserts at my holiday table, but I imagine it would also go nicely alongside the old standbys as well.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 12

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 fifteen ounce can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup sour cream

8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon orange zest
14 ounces powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans. Line the bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

Place the butter and sugars in a medium bowl fitted for an electric mixer. Cream together on medium/high speed until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin puree. Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream; beating until combined after each addition. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans. Bake the cakes until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let cool for 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife alongside the edges of the cake and the pan; then invert the cake onto a flat plate. Remove the parchment paper. Invert the cake back onto a wire rack to cool completely. The cakes can be made 1 day ahead of time, and individually wrapped in plastic before frosting.

To make the frosting, cream together the cream cheese, butter, powder sugar, orange zest and vanilla on medium/high speed until smooth and creamy. Store the frosting in the refrigerator until ready to use. Take out of the fridge 5 minutes before frosting.

To assemble the cake, place one layer of the cake on a large cake plate or pedestal. Put about 2/3 cup frosting on the cake and use an off set spatula to evenly distribute the frosting. Place the second cake layer on top and use the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake. This cake will keep cover in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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