Monday, September 28, 2009

Cake of the Week: Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Streusel

I can now say for 100% certain that it feels like fall!

My run on Friday was the first time I truly felt the crispness in the air, and yesterday morning's run re-confirmed it. I love fall. All summer (while literally dripping with sweat) I dream of fall running. A trail run in the fall is my heaven. Take a moment and think about it. Mmmm.

So anyway, another great thing about fall is the food. Apples. Spices. Cider. Butternut Squash. And best of all, pumpkin! Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin oatmeal (oh yes!), and pumpkin cake. Yum yum yum to the max! If you have not yet tried pumpkin bread with peanut butter, you should probably go ahead and do that asap. And pumpkin oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins is like a satisfying bowl of heaven!

And then there’s always pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin curry. Aaahhh the list of extreme way-goodness just goes on and on!

I decided this weekend that my first pumpkin baking venture of the season would be pumpkin coffee cake. I spiced things up a bit by adding a cinnamon chocolate streusel filling a la sour cream coffee cake.

But, as with many of my ventures, pumpkin turned into more of an escapade than originally expected. I went to the grocery store on Saturday (because my fridge was a sad sad place – 2 apples, 1 yogurt, and some condiments do not a meal make). And gasp! the spot on the shelf with the Canned Pumpkin tag was empty!

What’s a girl to do?

Go to Trader Joes.

So I trekked myself all the way to TJs, filled my basket, and got in the RIDICULOUSLY long line before I realized that I had forgotten to get pumpkin! So I asked the girl behind me to save my spot while I ran to grab myself a can of orange squash-y goodness. And again, gasp! no pumpkin. 

TJs, you have got to be kidding me! 

I was at a loss. Until, dun dun dun, I spotted actual pumpkins. I took a deep breath, came to the realization that it was a go-big-or-go-home moment, and grabbed a whole sugar pumpkin. Pumpkin cake from scratch? Literally. Bring it on.

Sugar pumpkins are a little different from your standard Halloween carving pumpkin. First of all, this one had the thickest skin ever!!! Imagine me, in my kitchen, stabbing and sawing at a pumpkin, trying to get my knife through it. (I considered just putting the whole think in the oven and cutting it once it was roasted, but then images of exploding 350* pumpkin crossed my mind, and I thought better off it.) 

Finally I got enough leverage to cut the thing in half (Mollie: 1, Pumpkin: 0). I roasted it for 1 hour at 350* (along with my butternut squash – aka mmmm - dinner). Then I scooped out the flesh (ugh, I hate that word – what else can I call it?) and blended it to make my very own pumpkin puree. No can needed. Take that Safeway/TJs!


From there it was no problem – pumpkin bundt cake + cinnamon streusel chocolate filling.

Here’s the recipe for Super Moist Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-oz can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

For glaze:
2 T butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1-3 T cream or milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour bundt pan. Combine together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan. Shake a few times to be sure to remove any bumps then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

To make glaze, heat butter until melted. Stir in sifted powdered sugar. Mix in cream or milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Drizzle over cake while it is on a wire rack so excess falls through.

 My Adjustments:

 My family makes this delicious bundt cake from the Tassajara Bread Book. I couldn't find the recipe online, so I re-constructed the chocolate cinnamon streusel filling by feel. 


-       1.5 Tablespoons melted butter

-       2 Tablespoons flour

-       4 Tablespoons brown sugar

-       ½ Tablespoon cocoa

-       2 teaspoon cinnamon

-       ½ cup chopped walnuts


Pour half the batter in the bundt pan. Sprinkle streusel filling evenly over it, sprinkle about ½ cup mini chocolate chips over streusel, cover completely with rest of cake batter.

Also, a good FYI cheat: 

What to do if you don't have/don't want to buy buttermilk?

- Plain or vanilla yogurt works

- OR, you can make sour milk. Milk + a splash of vinegar. Let it sit for a bit (at least 1/2 hour). It will get lumpy and look gross, but it totally works as buttermilk!


Overall I’d say this recipe was a win. If I make it again, I will probably double the spices and add some ginger and cloves as well.


Happy Fall!