Friday, November 9, 2012

A Long Term Baking Project

Well, readers, it is time to spill the beans.  I am working on a long term baking project.  No, cakes do not normally fall into a long-term baking category, but the cakes were made in celebration of my newest project.  This particular project takes about 40 weeks to create.... yes indeed, I am pregnant!  My body is busy creating a little baby boy, whom we are currently calling "button".  Hence, the decorations on the above cakes.  Buttons!  To celebrate our little button, I made Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting. 

Our button will be joining our family sometime in mid-April, so I am nearly half-way there.  For a long time, this project made actual baking (or cooking for that matter) quite a challenge, as I was so exhausted all the time I just didn't have the energy to be in the kitchen.  At the same time, I had no motivation to bake for a while as well.  It was terrible!  Thankfully, both my energy and creativity are slowly returning!  Phew! 

On to the cake!

 Cream butter and brown sugar for 4-5 minutes, until very light in color. 

Beat eggs and vanilla extract in a small bowl and add to the creamed mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time.  When the eggs are completely blended, add the pumpkin. 

Sift dry ingredients in a fine mesh strainer...

 and add to the batter alternatively with buttermilk.

Prepare the pan/s by buttering and then laying a circle of parchment on the bottom.  Pour the batter into the cake pan.  The recommended cake pan size is 9-inches but I wanted a baby cake for baby button, so I used a 4-inch pan and put 1 cup of batter into the pan.  The remaining batter went into an 8-inch circular pan.  If in a 9-inch pan, they should bake for about an hour.  My baby pan baked for about 35 minutes, and the 8-inch pan baked for about 55 minutes.  I checked them every 5 minutes after 30, since I wasn't sure how long it should take.

I didn't photograph making the frosting but it was very simple.  Cream the cream cheese and butter together until smooth, add maple syrup and powdered sugar and blend completely.  This icing, while yummy, is extremely thin and runny and I probably should have returned to the mixer and added more powdered sugar to give more structure.  I didn't do that, however.  Thus the frosting was much harder to deal with than I wanted.  I hoped to pipe the button details onto the cake but this icing would not pipe.  So I toasted some pecans and used them instead.  They provided a great crunch to the cake so it was a good addition! 

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple-Pecan Frosting
adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (8 oz) canned pumpkin (I HIGHLY suggest organic pumpkin)
2 cups (7 oz) sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (4 oz) buttermilk, at room temperature
12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 stick (3 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 TB (6 1/2 oz) pure maple syrup
1 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sifted confectioners sugar
1 cup (4 oz) pecan pieces, toasted

Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.  Lightly coat the cake pan/s with butter and fit it with a circle of parchment paper.

Cream the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer on medium high until light in color, about 4-5 minutes.  Beat the eggs adn vanilla in a small bowl to blend.  With the mixer on medium, add the eggs to the creamed mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each addition is completely blended in before adding in the next tablespoon.  Add the pumpkin and blend well. 

Sift the dry ingredients in a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl and whisk to blend.  With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternatively, beginning with 1/3 of the flour and half of the buttermilk.  Add 1/2 of the remaining dry ingredients with the rest of the buttermilk, then add the rest of the dry ingredients.  Finish blending the batter by hand.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for about 1 hour, or until the top is firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted in to the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting:  Place the cream cheese and butter into a clean mixing bowl and blend until smooth.  Add the maple syrup and powdered (confectioners) sugar).  Mix thoroughly.

Unmold the cake from the pan turn so the top of the cake is up.  Level if necessary and eat the parts you trimmed!  Use a serrated knife or a cake leveler to slice the cake horizontally into two layers.  Flip the top layer onto a cake platter, so the leveled part is now on the bottom.  Spread icing onto the layer and then flip the rest of the cake onto the top so the parchment paper is on the top.  Remove the parchment paper and now you have a nice smooth top for more icing!  Ice the top and sides and press toasted pecans onto the cake.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed.  Let warm to room temperature before serving if refrigerated.
Printable Recipe

Even though the frosting was not the consistency I would have preferred, the cake was delicious.  It is very moist and has a great spice.  The icing is creamy with a subtle maple flavor, and the pecans provided a nice crunch.  The clever girl licked the plate! 

We are very excited about our little "button".  The clever girl has decided she will be "the best big sister ever" and is thrilled with my growing belly. 

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! That is the best news ever!!


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