Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chai Buttercream

I'm sorry that I have been gone, but you will surely accept the peace treaty that I set before you today. Last night, we had a friend's Thanksgiving, and I made a pumpkin cake with chai icing. It was perfectly moist and the Italian butter cream (though it gave me mild fits) was supremely worth every last calorie.

Thanksgiving desserts (at least in my mind) usually revolve around pie. My grandmother would always make pumpkin pie for our meals, and it always seemed fitting. But I like cake. So I set about finding a festive fall cake that screams Thanksgiving. This cake was soooo easy to make. I made it at midnight, half asleep, and it turned out perfectly. It has a wonderful spiciness and a very mild pumpkin flavor, so if you don't like it, you won't really taste it. I think it basically just adds moistness to the cake.

The icing also has a nice spiciness, and as I was making it, my kitchen filled with the sent of a chai latte. It was heavenly. I will say though that this icing is a bit fussy. It requires that you boil the sugar - water combo and I don't really have a candy thermometer. The first time that I made it, I boiled it too long and it became like jolly ranchers before I realized what had happened. (Beware: it will look lovely and liquidy in the sauce pan, but it hardens quickly!!) So a little wiser to this icing's plot, I just eyed it instead of timing or using the thermometer.

Despite my icing antics, it was well worth it, and hopefully it will run smoother for you! I think you should give it a go as it was well worth it! If the icing does overwhelm you, I would just make a normal butter cream or cream cheese frosting (either would be great) and add the chai spices to that.
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Anyways, on with the show...

Pumpkin Cake with Chai-Spiced Italian Buttercream
Adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine
Issue No. 84

Pumpkin Cake:
*2 1/2 cups cake flour
* 2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 tsp. baking soda
* 1/2 tsp. table salt
* 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 2 eggs (at room temp.)
* 1/2 cup hot water

Cake Directions:
(1 hour total)
(16 servings ... at least)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat insides of two 8x2 inch round cake pans with non-stick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper; coat paper with non-stick spray.

2. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

3. Beat together pumpkin, sugars, oil and vanilla in a bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in one egg at a time until incorporated.

4. Alternately add flour mixture and hot water to the sugar mixture, beating after each addition.

5. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth top with a spatula. Bake until cakes come out clean, about 28-30 minutes (mine took 25). Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then turn them out to cool completely.

Chai Spiced Italian Buttercream:
* 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 tsp. ground ginger
* 1/2 tsp. each: ground nutmeg, cardamom and cloves
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
* 5 egg whites at room temp.
* 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
* 4 sticks unsalted butter at room temp. (yep... you read that right.)

(30 minutes total)

1. Stir together spices and set aside.

2. Boil sugar, water and and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (Now, here is where I had trouble... this is what the recipe says to do!) When syrup reaches 230 degrees, begin whipping egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer on high speed with the whisk attachment until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat to stiff peaks. Meanwhile, continue cooking syrup until it reaches 245 degrees.
(What I did that worked: The 2nd time I started the egg whites at the same time as my sugar syrup. I mixed it on medium high and added the cream of tartar as called for. I then continued to watch the syrup and just eye balled when I thought it was done. If you pull out the spoon, you would see an ever so slight graininess of the sugar. It was mostly dissolved so that when I did add it to the egg whites, you didn't notice it.)

3. Immediately remove syrup from heat. Drizzle about 1 tbsp and all of the spice into the whipped egg whites; beat on high until thoroughly combined.

4. Continue drizzling syrup, beating until all is added and combined. Continue beating until sides are cooled to room temp. (About five minutes) (Note: as my syrup cooled, some hardened on the side of the bowl, but the icing itself was totally fine. I just avoided that as I went to frost my cake.)

5. Add butter 1 tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition. Buttercream may appear to curdle, but continue beating. It will all come together when all of the butter is added.

To Assemble:

Cut each cake in half. Apply frosting between each layer, on the top and on the sides! (You will have a nice, tall, four layer cake that is supremely moist and not overly sweet.

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