Oct 9, 2012

Pumpkin Honey Cake

It's October.  Kiddie Halloween costumes are taking over Wal-Mart.  Trick-or-treat candy is in your face no matter what isle you turn down, inescapable in it's oh-so-temping tiny packaging...One little bag won't hurt, right?  Five boxes of Dots later you're feeling the guilt in your gut and the twinge of sugar making your teeth hurt.  I love this time of year.

My son and I just back from the US.  We went to visit my parents, so you know I did some stocking up on supplies while I was home.  My most coveted treasure, a 32 ounce bottle of Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract

Unfortunately you cannot purchase vanilla extract in the UAE (due to the alcohol content) so it's one of those staples that's in my suitcase on every trip back.  However a friend of mine just made her own homemade extract using scrapings from vanilla pods combined with vodka which you leave to marinate for a month or so...Prohibition style, no?  Maybe we can post on that later. 
I, for one, am one of those die-hard believers that one should NEVER use vanilla 'flavoring' or imitation vanilla.  I'd rather not bake if that was my only option.  If you don't believe me, try whipping up some cream, adding that powder-vanilla-wanna-be to half, and real vanilla extract to other.  Taste both and you'll be a believer too. 
And since fall is in the air, leaves are changing, you're pulling out all your sweaters from their sabbatical (well, not in our part of the world, however the temperature did reach 37 degrees C yesterday so it's a start I suppose...that's 98 degree F for my fellow Americans), it's time to bust out the autumn inspired recipes. 
And if you're like myself, I'm sure your sick-to-death of Pumpkin Pie, I mean really...we can do much better.  I was pretty intrigued with this recipe for Pumpkin Honey Cake.  I love using honey at any opportunity.  It has such a sweet, unique taste and color, very autumn-ish.  I knew I'd be fan of the recipe because half of the reviews people gave said 'this cake was too sweet' so yeh that is right up my alley. 
However with that said, my husband is one of those frustratingly annoying people who likes to complain about my over-abundance of sweetness (in my recipes that is, not me personally, hah!) and he actually really enjoyed this cake.  Additionally, the original recipe didn't call to baste the cake with Bailey's after it was cooled, but after reading some of the reviews that the cake was a bit dry, I thought it was better to add some moisture just in case.  I'm glad that I did because the texture was spot on.
I hope you enjoy this one and it becomes a new addition to your holiday repertoire!
Pumpkin Honey Cake
serves 8-10
For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2-3 tablespoons Bailey's
For the Frosting:
1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature *See note below
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon (scant) ground allspice
1 cup chilled whipping cream
*Here in Dubai our cream cheese is sold in tubs, not in blocks like we have in the US.  It is much softer and unfortunately not very suitable to work with for frosting.  However it's the only option we have so we have to make do.  A bit of advice, when you first open the container, drain out any excess liquid.  Measure out what you need and place in a bowl.  Let it sit on the counter to come to room temperature.  You'll notice there will be more liquid in the bottom of the bowl, drain this out before using.  If anyone ever sees blocks of cream cheese on sale please email me and let me know...I will bake you something if you do :)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1-inch jelly roll pan with foil, leaving overhang on the shorter sides.  Grease the pan using butter or shortening.  I use a sandwich baggie as a glove to make things easy. 
Add about 2 tablespoons of flour to the greased sheet and coat evenly.  Tap out excess into the trash.   
Sift 2 1/4 cups flour and next 5 ingredients into medium bowl.  Make sure you actually do sift this part, I know it can be a nuisance but almost every time without fail I find a small sliver of something in the cinnamon.  Additionally sifting is a very crucial step as it adds air to the flour, creating a lighter cake.  Also, sometimes the baking powder/spices can contain clumps due to humidity and it's best to sift them through. 
Whisk to combine.
Whisk pumpkin, sour cream, honey and vanilla in small bowl to blend.
Using a mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy.
Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat dry ingredients into butter mixture alternately with pumpkin mixture.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

To prepare the frosting, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, 1/3 cup pumpkin, honey and allspice in large bowl until fluffy.  Be sure to sift in your powdered sugar as it can get quite lumpy.  This step helps guarantee a smooth frosting.
Beat whipping cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form.  This can sometimes happen very quickly depending on your mixer and/or the quality of your cream.  Be sure to keep a close eye while whipping so you won't over-beat.
Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture in 2 additions. Spoon 1 1/2 cups frosting into small bowl to use for decorating; cover and refrigerate.

Once the cake has cooled completely, poke holes across the cake with a fork. 
Using a pastry brush, gently cover the cake with a layer of Bailey's.  No need to be overly-generous, just 1 even coat will do.  You don't want to cake to get too soggy. 

Using foil as aid, lift cake onto work surface. Cut cake crosswise into three 10 x 4-inch rectangles (reserve remaining cake for another use).  I found using a ruler was pretty helpful as I almost always cut crooked.  Make three marks every 4 inches on the top and bottom, then slice using them as guides.
Slide spatula under 1 rectangle; transfer cake to platter. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting.
Top with second cake. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with third cake. Using 1 cup of frosting, cover the cake with a crumb coat (which means you are 'sealing' in the crumbs so when frosting the final layer you will be crumb-free...some cakes can be quite crumbly).  Chill 1 hour.
Cover cake with remaining frosting using an off-set spatula.  I pipped some stars along the bottom to give the cake a finished look.  Let the cake firm up in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Epicurious 

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