Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake
Fall is officially here according to the calendar. This is exciting for us San Franciscans because it means finally our fog is lifting and we are coming into our “Indian summer”. The sky is suddenly blue instead of white, the sun is shining, the days are shorter but the smell of fall is in the air, and it’s such a fabulous time. This means pumpkins and orange colors of every hue. Big pumpkins, orange pumpkins, white pumpkins, cute little mini pumpkins and everything pumpkin in terms of baking.
I make this cake every fall and I always make the marzipan pumpkins that go on top of the cake. I actually taught my son Seth how to make the marzipan pumpkins and once he starts there is no stopping him. Seth loves to make anything out of marzipan. Everytime I whip out the marzipan he begs me to get involved. Molding shapes out of marzipan is like playdoh for adults. I think that’s why Seth really likes the marzipan……..you see I sort of banned playdoh in our house when he was little. Don’t judge…It’s just that I got tired of picking pieces of hard gunk out of the carpet….but I digress. This cake is very moist because of the pumpkin in the batter. It is a great way to welcome in the beginning of Fall.
Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake (yields 8 inch 3 layer cake, or 10 inch 2 layer cake)
3/4 C Unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 C Light brown sugar
1 C Sugar
3 Lg. eggs
1 C Pumpkin puree
1/2 C Buttermilk
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 oranges; zested
2 C All-purpose flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Ground ginger
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 C Toasted walnuts or pecans (+ more for sides of cake)
1/3 C candied orange peel* (optional) [around this time in the stores you can start to find it in little shallow tubs packed in syrup] or you can make your own. (I make my own; but that is a recipe for another time).
Mascarpone cream cheese Icing (recipe below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Prepare your chosen pans by spraying with baking spray and lining with parchment circles; spray again lightly.
2. Combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, orange zest, and vanilla. Set aside.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt; whisk to combine.
4. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium high speed until smooth and well combined.
5. Add in the eggs one at a time; stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
6. Starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour and pumpkin mixture; scraping bowl in between each addition and ending with the flour mixture.
7. Divide the batter evenly into the pans and Bake at 350º for ~ 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned and a toothpick coms out clean.
8. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove to cool completely on the rack. Ice the cake with the cream cheese icing when completely cool.
Mascarpone cream cheese icing
(3) 8 oz. bricks cream cheese; softened
8 oz. container mascarpone cheese; softened
1/2 stick (1/4 C unsalted butter, softened)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
5 Cups confectioners sugar (measure, then sift)
1. Sift the sugar, then set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment; beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, and butter until smooth. Add in the sugar a little at a time on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and beat on medium high speed until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
orange food coloring (gel type) * found at cake supply stores
whole cloves (or chocolate jimmies)
Method: Wear latex free gloves or use a plastic bag to color your marzipan. Add a little bit of orange coloring to the marzipan and knead in the coloring with your hands until desired color. I like to do two different colors of orange; one a bit darker. Once the color looks evenly distributed; pick off a ball of marzipan and roll into a ball. Using a toothpick rock the toothpick against the sides of the ball lightly to create pumpkin lines. Flatten the top of the ball slightly. Stick the whole clove or chocolate jimmy into the top. Warning; if you use the cloves; warn your guests not to eat the cloves; they are only for decoration or you can use the chocolate jimmy if you have small children or are concerned. I love to use the cloves because it the stem looks more real and also it gives off a nice scent.