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TCP Kitchen

Blessed by Cake

Many rituals and traditions are made complete by sharing this dessert

Of all desserts, cakes might be the most sacred. Tied to tradition since ancient bakers shaped dough into rounds to symbolize suns and moons, cakes are still the centerpieces for holidays, weddings, birthdays and other occasions across the world. Be it a rich butter cake, cheesecake or fluffy angel food, cake brings people together and makes memories indelible by stamping the flavors and aromas of special moments into our minds. It’s no surprise, then, that some families have “signature” cakes associated with events. In fact, this month’s submissions included more notes than usual, with bakers citing the significance of their cakes to their family or the person known for making it.

My contribution is my family’s favorite pumpkin cake. The recipe calls for a full tablespoon of baking powder, so I recommend using an aluminum-free type such as Rumford Double-Acting (which, in my opinion, leaves less of an aftertaste than other types). You can assemble the cake in layers, or bake it in a 13-by-9-inch pan so that it’s easy to carry to a casual holiday get-together or teacher appreciation event. It’s fairly simple to prepare and looks pretty when garnished with toasted pecans and caramel sauce.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
11/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped, divided


16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ready-to-use caramel sundae sauce

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round baking pans with flour-added baking spray.
  • Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg together in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, eggs, pumpkin, oil and vanilla just until mixed. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until blended.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans, then divide cake batter evenly between the two pans.
  • Bake cakes on the center rack for about 32-35 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cakes cool for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn out of the pans and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
  • When cakes are completely cool, make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the two cups of powdered sugar, beating until smooth, then beat in the vanilla extract. Taste test. If you prefer a sweeter frosting, add more sugar and continue beating.
  • Frost and stack layers, then garnish with remaining pecans and caramel sauce before serving.

Servings: 12. Serving size: 1 slice. Per serving: 742 calories, 8.76 g protein, 46.10 g fat, 68.97 g carbohydrates, 3.61 g dietary fiber, 418 mg sodium, 44.51 g sugars, 108 mg cholesterol

October 2014 Recipe Contest