Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

As I have mentioned in a previous post, Fall is not exactly my favorite time of year; I much prefer summer, where I am free to put my large sundress collection to good use, cook with basil and tomatoes, and enjoy the occasional gelato or two. There is, thankfully, one thing that helps me ease in to the transition between Summer and Fall, that in some way lets the transition between August and September not quite so bad: Pumpkin season! In the U.S in particular pumpkin is particularly celebrated in the Fall -- sure, you can find pumpkin ravioli or tortelloni in some parts of Italy*, but the pumpkin tradition in the U.S has its own style. Come October, pumpkins are carved in to jack o lanterns in anticipation of Halloween or used as inspiration for seasonal Pumpkin spice Yankee candles. There is pumpkin spice coffee at at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, and bakeries begin to sell pumpkin muffins, cakes, pies, or my personal favorite, iced pumpkin donuts (yummm). Yes, we Americans love pumpkin in the Fall and use it whenever possible. I am no exception – I love cooking with pumpkin, whether it be in a savory dish (pumpkin risotto! pumpkin gnocchi! pumpkin chili!) or in sweet dishes, like this pumpkin gingerbread.

Much like challah bread, this is a recipe that I would put in the “one of my favorite things that I have ever made” category – it is beyond delicious. I stumbled across the recipe a couple of years ago and it has since become my standard pumpkin bread recipe. This cake is extra moist and dense and packed with spices (four different ones, to be exact) as any good pumpkin dessert should be. It is a very versatile recipe – here I’ve made a cake with cream cheese frosting, but I’ve also used this same recipe to make a pumpkin gingerbread layer cake*** or pumpkin gingerbread cupcakes. Or, if you want to keep things simple you could leave out the frosting all together and make pumpkin gingerbread muffins or a pumpkin gingerbread loaf. Enjoy everyone!!!


Ingredients for cake:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Ingredients for frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch square pan.
In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Using a whisk, add the pumpkin and mix until well combined. Next, whisk in the ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.

In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake in a preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

To make the cream cheese frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in large bowl until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and cut in to squares. Serves 8-10, depending on how big you cut the cake.

*If you want to make a two layer cake or twelve cupcakes, you should double this recipe.

Note: I tend to add the amount of spices listed in the recipe, taste the batter, and then I usually add a bit more of each spice. I suggest you do the same to ensure you get the right level of spice in your cake -- if you prefer a more subtle flavor, add what is listed. If you want a spicier cake, add more to taste. 

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