Every year for the past few, Boris and I get away for a father-son hiking weekend. Over the past several years we've summited all five of Vermont's highest peaks, so this year we set our sites a bit further north and headed to Maine to summit that state's tallest mountain, Mt. Katahdin.
Katahdin is located in Baxter State Park, which unfortuntaley is about a 7 hour drive from where we live in Massachusetts. I always forget how big a state Maine is, it takes forever to get anywhere up there. That said, we found ourselves in need of a little pick-me-up about halfway through our drive up, and pulled off at a Starbucks for a recharge. I ordered up a grande mocha, but Boris, not yet a coffee drinker was at a loss. He had just asked me what I thought he might like when I saw that their chalkboard special was a pumpkin-spiced latté. All I had to tell him was that it would taste like a liquid piece of pumpkin pie and HE WAS IN! He ordered up an iced version and was grinning ear to ear as he savored his first coffee-drink treat.
He like it so much, in fact, that we stopped at the same Starbucks on our return trip so that he could grab another one (and so that his ancient and exhausted father could get a caffeine fix to keep him awake for the long drive home after our challenging hike the day before). After polishing off his second latté, he turned to me and stated that he was such a fan that he'd decided that he wanted his birthday cake this year to be a pumpkin cake with a cream cheese frosting. As his 15th birthday was just a couple weeks away, I had a little planning to do.
Without too much trouble I found this recipe on Epicurious, and with a little tweaking to amp the spice of the cake, delivered a big two thumbs up treat for our guy. Pumpkin may be a bit of an unorthodox choice for most foks for a birthday cake, but Boris just loved his. For those of you less inclined to sing happy birthday while carrying this lovely around, it would be a fabulous addition to a Thanksgiving dessert spread.
Cheers – Steve
- Butter for coating cake pans, at room temperature
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
- 1/2 cup packed unsweetened, flaked coconut
- 3/4 cup canned crushed pineapple (do not drain)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
- Butter two 9-inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch sides. Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper. Sprinkle the pans with flour, tap the pans to evenly distribute the flour, and then shake off the excess flour. Set aside.
- To make the cake, in a large bowl, sift together the 2 cups flour, the granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.
- In the bowl of a blender or small food processor, puree the coconut flakes with the crushed pineapple.
- In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, oil, and vanilla. In another medium bowl, combine the pumpkin purée and the coconut-pineapple mix. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined. Add the pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading it evenly.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and peel off the parchment paper. Let cool completely before frosting the cakes.
- To make the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for about 3 minutes until smooth. Add the butter and beat for about 2 minutes until combined. Add the pumpkin purée and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat for about 3 minutes until fluffy.
- Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or platter. Using an offset spatula, spread half of the frosting over the top of the first cake layer. Spread the frosting right to the edge of the top without frosting the sides of the cake. Carefully place the second cake on top, lining up the edges. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake without frosting the sides. Swirl the frosting to decorate the top.
- Refrigerate the cake to set the frosting. Remove from the refrigerator 30 to 40 minutes before serving.