“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be.” Douglas Adams
Happy accident. Serendipity. Stroke of luck. This is how my pumpkin oatmeal cake came to be. Like so many other things in my life I chose a path hoping for a certain outcome, made a couple of gut feeling choices and luckily the result turned out great. We received a sugar pumpkin in our CSA last week. What the hell am I going to do with this thing? I’ve never roasted a pumpkin before because the can stuff suits me just fine. Why mess with easy and delicious? Choices are tough. I could put the pumpkin on our porch and let the squirrels have it, use a can of pumpkin puree that’s been sitting in my pantry for two years or roast a farm fresh sugar pumpkin. I went for it and roasted the pumpkin. You never know where one decision might lead.
Well my choice lead me to Alton Brown’s recipe for pumpkin puree. I cut the sweet little pumpkin in half with my best knife. (He suggests using a cleaver, but I don’t own one, I’m not there…yet.) I scooped out the seeds and let the kids play with the goo. They loved it and they made a huge mess, but they were occupied. Hooray! I sprinkled the flesh with kosher salt and roasted each half, flesh side down, for about 30 minutes. My house smelled like pure, earthy pumpkin. Once the pumpkin was fork tender, I removed it from the oven and allowed it to cool for an hour. After a quick hour, I scooped up the flesh and spooned it into my food processor; minutes later I had fresh pumpkin puree. Easy!
I set out to make Martha’s Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing. Her recipe called for canned, solid pumpkin puree, and my puree was anything but solid. It was more like stage 2 baby food, a little thick, but not solid. Once I noticed how watery the batter was, I decided to add 2 cups of oatmeal for a little health and chewiness; still planning on cookies not a cake. Then I noticed the time. The kids were getting restless and the baby would be up from his nap soon. Bars! The quick version of a cookie! I had a ton of batter so I chose a 9×13 pan. I poured the batter into my prepared pan and popped it in the oven. Fifteen minutes later, I peeked through the oven door and saw the batter rising higher than expected, slowly forming a golden brown pumpkin cake. I expected bars. I wanted moist, perfectly spiced, slightly chewy pumpkin bars. My choices lead to a new dessert, a new plan.
Once the cake cooked and cooled, I took a little piece from the corner. Moist, sweet and nicely spiced…it was good?! Cake needs frosting or icing. I love maple and pumpkin together, so I made an easy maple cream cheese icing. I attempted to artistically drizzle the icing all over the cake, but it looked more like my 4-year-old got a hold of the icing. I smoothed over the icing and sprinkled it with a bit of cinnamon. I cut myself a piece of cake, took a big bite and enjoyed my happy accident.
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
This cake is moist, dense and perfectly sweet. The fresh pumpkin makes a difference you can taste: earthy and subtly sweet. The oatmeal adds a surprising texture to the cake. The maple cream cheese icing pairs well with the pumpkin and can be easily doubled if you want a thick layer of icing. This is an easy dessert for the upcoming holiday season. Enjoy!
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart and Epicurious
Ingredients for Cake:
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
2 cups of old fashion oats
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions for cake:
Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line a 13×9 metal baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly, grease and flour the parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and oatmeal; set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl half way through. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla. Mix until well combined. (**The batter may separate at this point, but don’t worry it will be fine once you add the dry ingredients.**)
Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean or the cake springs back when lightly touched. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Once cool, carefully remove the cake. Remove the parchment paper and decorate the cake with maple cream cheese icing and serve. The cake is best the day it is made, but tastes great the next day too. If you have any cake left, store it at room temperature in an air-tight container. Enjoy!
Maple Cream Cheese Icing
makes about 2 cups but can easily be doubled
1 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Using a stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the sifted sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and pinch of salt. Beat until very smooth and decorate your cake.
5 Easy Halloween Dessert Links!
Need a quick and easy finger food dessert for your Halloween party? Head to Willow Bird baking for her maple cream snickerdoodle bars. I must make these!
Offer some nut-free Halloween treats this year! The kitchen has a list of 5 nut-free Halloween treats that both kids and adults will love. Check it out!
If you love Halloween Oreos try making your own! Better yet, try my recipe. So good!
I love caramel. Two Red Bowl’s recipe for apple cider crème fraiche caramels has me motivated to attempt candy making again!
Have time to make candy and want to keep it sorta healthy on Halloween? Head to Edible Perspective for chocolate pumpkin almond butter cups. Yes please!