Now that Halloween is behind us, we can enjoy pumpkins for their inner beauty and real purpose—consuming not carving. Not everyone likes pumpkin, however. Ask a room full of people, “Who likes pumpkin pie?” and there will be a few enthusiasts longing for a taste and the majority responding as if you’ve just offered them a turnip cookie.
Outside of pie, most people do seem to like pumpkin—in cakes, muffins, quick breads, pancakes, soups, etc. For many, the pumpkin pie to which they’ve been subjected has lacked flavor or the texture was mealy. I never had pumpkin pie as a kid, and until I met M, I was not a fan either. He gingerly guided me to add it to my list of American good eats.
Pumpkin has an earthy taste that envelopes the essence of Fall. It is also a fantastic blank slate to which you can add and combine other ingredients. Cinnamon takes the lead and other spices such as nutmeg, allspice], and ginger make up the chorus. I also found certain fruits to make a wonderful partner with pumpkin.
In this recipe, orange gives pumpkin a zippy freshness, while natural sugars in bananas bring out the sweet side. Combine all the above and you get a flavor profile that even the most finicky pumpkin eater will at least consider. Of course, I can’t make this cake without my latest obsession with caramel.
Cinnamon-Caramel Pumpkin Cake w Creamy Banana-Rum Filling
yield: one 6-inch cake
1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup of pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup of Caramel syrup, recipe to follow
1 tablespoon dark rum
Creamy Banana-Rum Filling, recipe to follow
Caramel-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe to follow
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted, for garnish
1. Set oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350℉. Butter two 6-by-2-inch round cake pans, dusted with flour and tap out excess, set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and sugars in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkim puree, oils, eggs, caramel syrup, and rum. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combine.
4. Pour into the prepared baking pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out of the center clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto wire rack. Cool cakes completely, about 1 hour.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water, plus 1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a stainless steel saucepan, stir until mixture feels like wet sand. Set pan over medium heat and cook until amber color, about 20 minutes. Brush down side of pan with wet pastry brush if necessary to prevent crystallization.
2. Remove pan from heat, slowly pour in one cup of water, caramel will sputter. Stir until the sputtering subsides, add salt and stir to combine. Pour in heat proof bowl and let cool completely.
Note: you will not need the entire syrup recipe for this cake. You might want to use it in the Candy Bar Cake
Creamy Banana-Rum Filling
2 large egg yolks
1/2 can evaporated milk (6 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1-3/4 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
1. Whisk yolks in medium saucepan; gradually whisk in evaporated milk. Add sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until sugars have dissolved.
2. Stir in bananas and continue to whisk until it comes to a boil, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl, whisk in vanilla and rum. Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool or cold, about 2 hours.
Caramel-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons, (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange or lemon juice
2 teaspoons dark rum
3 tablespoons Caramel Syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. In a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until creamy, 2-3 minutes.
2. On low speed, add sugar and cinnamon; beat until just blended. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, orange juice, rum and syrup and beat until blended.
3. Slowly drizzle in the cream until the mixture is emulsified. Once all the cream is incorporated,increase speed to medium-highand beat until frosting is fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Use the frosting immediately or cover and refrigerate.
1. Trim top off cakes horizontally to level off the surface. Slice each cake horizontally to make two even layers. Place one layer on the serving platter. Spread 1/3 Banana Filling over the top evenly. Place second cake layer on top, and spread another 1/3 of the filling over top. Repeat until you top with the fourth cake layer.
2. Cover the cake with Caramel-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. Decorated with toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.