Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

Yes, that IS snow on the table outside!
Did this recipe deserve the cover of Fine Cooking magazine?  Yeah, I'm pretty sure it did.  Once again, I am behind on posting and I even pushed this one up in the cue because I really liked the picture and I feel like I need to redeem myself from the previous two posts.  I know I've whined about this before, but really Seattle?  You really have to make the sun start setting at 3pm?  When I was sick this last weekend, I didn't even get UP until 3 pm (I was sick!)… let alone try and take pictures of food.

I made this cake for Thanksgiving this year, my first one away from Michigan.  I could tell you a sob story about it (there really wasn't one…), but instead I baked my feelings away during the Snowpocalypse that happened just a few days before T-Day.  To all my Michiganders out there, please feel free to be disgusted, but the whole city of Seattle shutdown for almost two days before of 3 (THREE!) inches of snow.  I couldn't get to work on Monday or Tuesday and to get ingredients for this cake, I had to walk over a mile, half of it up and down a huge ice covered hill, to the Interbay QFC.  I then found out that one of the Thanksgivings I was going to didn't have power (they eventually got it back on in time) over on the Olympic Peninsula.  Say it with me now, SERIOUSLY Seattle?

I brought this over to my first Thanksgiving of the evening, hosted by my neighbors Doug & Elspeth!  I know they read my blog, so I'll only say nice thing about them, but honestly, there are only nice things to say about them!  Soon after moving in they greeted me and invited Rachel and I over for some wine.  We regularly go over to their place and I feel comforted knowing they're my neighbor!  Thanks guys!

Anyways… this cake is delicious!  I mean, actually plate licking delicious.  The cake portion is so moist and soft, but still has a tight enough crumb that frosting it isn't difficult at all.  Topping wise, I couldn't have thought up of a more perfect combination.  The toasted nuts contrast perfectly with the heat of the ginger while the pepitas provide an unexpected but welcome crunch.  To finish it off, the frosting is wonderful but I think the recipe developers were a little skimpy with the ingredients - I barely had just enough frosting.  Next time I'll make a little more.  However, it was nice that there wasn't much sugar in the frosting.

I know the pumpkin season is ending as we move into the non-stop feast on holiday cookies, but I swear this will be worth your while.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

Adapted from: Fine Cooking
For the cake
  • 1 ½ cups fresh pumpkin puree
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
For the topping
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas (i.e. hulled pumpkin seeds, I found some at QFC, they aren't too hard to find!)
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
For the frosting
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
To make the cake:
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans.

Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.
For the topping:
  1. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.
For the frosting:
  1. Melt the butter in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Assemble the cake
  3. Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting on the layer. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over the frosting and top with the second layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the remaining topping in a ring 1-1/2 inches in from the edge of the cake and serve.


sloeginfizz said...

Hey Katherine,
This looks delish — and the photos are gorgeous!
I realized I'm going to be leaving town the day you get in — yikes! I wasn't thinking. Do you want me to pop two calendars in the mail? I can send an invoice through Paypal. The other option is I can leave them at Blue House for you to pick up. Do you know about this space? You will love it. Let me know!

Carrie said...

Oh that's so pretty! Brown butter anything is superb. I like the decoration of the nuts too.

And hey, I'll defend our little Seattle from the Snowpocolypse fail. We have like fewer snowplows than most large northern cities, probably fewer than any of them. This post explains our fail better:

I clearly take pride in our tiny, snow-fearing city! :) Though I will admit that spring needs to hurry up and get here...we need some Vitamin D over here!

Anonymous said...

I made and tried this cake yesterday, and the topping was a very crunchy contrast to the soft cake and fluffy icing.

Best to leave overnight before serving so the pecan topping in the middle of cake softens just enough. Today it was perfect.

I'm DEFINITELY going to make this again. Loved it.



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