At this time of year, we go gaga for pumpkin.
Me, included. But just not in pie.
Those of you who have read me long enough know that I love all things pumpkin — just not pie.
As a result, it’s always a challenge to find something pumpkin-y for Thanksgiving that is not the typical pie. Something special enough to serve guests. Something grand enough to be the memorable sweet finale to such a meaningful holiday that we wait for all year-long.
Thank goodness for the guys at Baked bakery in Brooklyn, who have come up with “Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting.” It’s from the newest cookbook, “Baked Elements” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, who gave up their jobs in advertising to open their much-praised bakery known for its homey and ridiculously satisfying cookies, cakes and pastries.
This cookbook, their third, includes 75 recipes that highlight their 10 favorite ingredients — everything from peanut butter to malted milk powder to cheese, and of course, pumpkin.
The intro to the pumpkin cake recipe is a hoot. The guys write that they kid themselves into thinking that a one-layer cake like this one is so much better for you than a two- or three-layer one. Ah, men after my own heart.
The truth is the cake is full of rich and wonderful ingredients. But the fact that it’s one layer does make it easier to bake and frost.
This cake has autumn written all over it. The flavors make you think of roaring fireplaces, fallen leaves and cozy sweaters. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves will do that.
It’s a very moist cake that stays that way even after a couple of days, if you happen to have leftovers. The crumb is quite tender like a cupcake’s. The taste is pumpkin-y and spicy, but thankfully, not terribly sweet.
That’s true even with the frosting, which is a nice change of pace from the usual cream cheese-laden one. Instead, the luscious, thick frosting gets its body from almond butter enlivened with a little vanilla bean paste, a pinch of salt, a couple pats of butter and a splash of almond milk. The result is a frosting that doesn’t taste of sugar, but of rich, nutty almonds. How perfect is that?
For me, it’s the perfect pumpkin treat at this time of year. Take my word for it, you don’t have to be a pumpkin pie-hater to love this pumpkin cake.
Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting
(Makes one 9-inch, single-layer cake)
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
For the Almond Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup almond butter
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 to 4 tablespoons almond milk, to taste
1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, or pumpkin seeds, raw or toasted
To make the pumpkin almond cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter one 9-inch round cake pan, line with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin puree and beat just until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for a few more seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan, then turn the cake out onto the rack. Remove parchment, flip the cake right side up, and let the cake cool completely.
To make the almond butter frosting: Place almond butter, butter, 2 tablespoons of almond milk, 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until frosting comes together and is shiny and smooth. If you prefer a slightly looser frosting, add 1 to 2 additional tablespoons almond milk. If you prefer a thicker frosting, add 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Process again.
To assemble the cake: Transfer cake to a board or serving platter and use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the top. Sprinkle perimeter with almonds or pumpkin seeds.
The cake can be stored, lightly covered, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
From “Baked Elements” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
More Non-Pumpkin-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes: Pumpkin Swirl Ice Cream Pie with Chocolate-Almond Bark and Toffee Sauce
More Baked Bakery Recipes: Nutella Scones
And: Root Beer Bundt Cake