May 14, 2010

Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

I know, I know. It's the wrong season for pumpkin cake (though it is never the wrong season for cream cheese frosting!). I simply could not help sharing an old creation: a four-layer pumpkin cake with orange cream cheese frosting. It's secret ingredient, Chinese five-spice, adds a mysterious kick to every bite, its spicy notes balanced by the sweet tang of orange in the cool cream cheese frosting. This cake is a real winner, as well as a sure bet to impress a crowd of guests!

Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting


* Nonstick vegetable oil spray
* 3 cups all purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder*
* 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
* 3 large eggs, room temperature
* 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
* 1/3 cup whole milk


* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
* 1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
* 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
* Chopped walnuts or walnut halves, toasted

For cake:
Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with 1 1/2-inch sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment; spray parchment.

Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl until smooth. Beat in brown sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating to blend between additions. Divide batter between pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks. Remove parchment. Using tart pan bottom as aid, turn cakes over onto racks, top sides up, and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap cakes in plastic and store at room temperature.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add cream cheese and orange peel; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until smooth.

Trim rounded tops from cakes. Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on large platter. Spoon 2/3 cup frosting atop cake in dollops; spread to edges. Repeat 2 more times with cake and frosting; top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake (layer will be thin). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Decorate cake with walnuts and serve.

* A spice blend that usually contains ground fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves; available in the spice section of most supermarkets.
Recipe taken from November 2009 Bon Appetit

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