November 24, 2010

As I’m sure you’re all aware, the first trimester has come to a close. Sadly, this means no more desert elective classes. While we’ll all miss 8:15 deserts on Tuesday-Thursday, I know this elective went out with a bang! As my final project to test my newly acquired baking skills, I chose to make Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. Sounds delicious, right?! I’ll be honest. At first glance, this recipe scared me to death. So many skills I had never tried outside of the Woodlawn Kitchen! I was sure I was going to put in to much sugar, drop my cake batter while attempting to get it into the oven, leave out an ingredient, easy mistakes to make! It was Tuesday November 16 that I finally decided to, as Soy Sauce would say, “face my fears” and the result…? Well, I guess you’ll see!

Getting started with the Mis en Place! (Notice the light on in the oven... PREHEATING!)

After preheating the oven to 350 degrees F, the first step to beginning cake is to cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. I’ll admit, I was pretty skeptical about being able to make my butter “fluffy”… but hey! We learned to make it work!

It's getting fluffy!

When my sugar and butter mixture was fluffy, I added eggs one at a time. Once again, I “faced my fears” and pulled off cracking the eggs ON THE TABLE. Oh yes. It was glorious.

The look of "Oh my gosh I just cracked an egg on the table"... with my baking partner Sonic the Hedgehog for support.

Once the first egg was added, I mixed it thoroughly before adding in the second egg. The end result was something along the lines of this:

Scraping the sides of the bowl like a champ!

Once the eggs were completely incorporated, the recipe calls for pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Sadly, I’m not hardcore enough to grow my own pumpkins, so store bought pumpkin will have to do. I added the pumpkin and vanilla, mixed thoroughly, then set this bowl off to the side to begin working on the flour mixture!

Adding the pumpkin and vanilla

Then I began the flour mixture. I whisked together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Leveling cinnamon!

The spices are ready to be mixed!

Then I had to add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

First addition of the flour mixture (there were two identical pours after this one).

Adding the first bit of buttermilk (there were two more pours identical to this one).

After each of the three additions, this was the final cake batter!

I put this into two separate 8-inch cake pans, put it in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes, and got started on the icing. The icing was simply a blend of cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, and confectioners’ sugar. Normally it turns out white, but I decided to make my cake a little bit more festive. I got a bit carried away with the food coloring…

I got a little carried away with the food coloring.

Before I knew it, It was time to check my cake with a toothpick!

The toothpick came out clean, and I then proceeded to level, fill, frost with a crumb layer, frost with a final layer, and decorate with a pipe bag.

My final frosting layer left my cake with a spiral design on top. I decided to take advantage of that and add edible silver decorations! Overall, this was an incredible trimester. Not only did I learn so much about baking, I also gained the confidence to try a recipe for myself!

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (about 1/2 of a 15 ounce can)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Thanks for a great trimester, and happy baking!

-Lady Lettuce


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