Since becoming a blogger, I often over think making dessert for company, especially the presentation – since before a crumb goes into anyone’s mouth I often try to get the perfect shot for the blog. But here I present to you what’s left of a cake that I made for a few people I had over last night.
This was supposed to be a pretty layered cake. But by the time I got around to making it, I knew it would be too late to photograph it when it was cooled and frosted. So the lazy girl in me baked it into one layer, spread the frosting with the back of a knife, sprinkled the top with walnuts and called it a day. “Pretty” or not my guests didn’t care. With a knife in hand, they each cut into the cake square by square, ate the pieces with their hands and loved it.
The evening was the re-emergence of what at home we call Chezs. When I first met my husband 8+ years ago, between his and his cousin’s place across the hall, a small group of us got together for a super casual gathering on Friday nights. We’d drink whatever was on hand and either order Chinese or prepare something simple and easy. The gatherings weren’t about the food or drinks but about spending time together, telling each other stories and cracking lots of funny jokes that would take us into the wee hours of the morning.
We’re all a lil older now so we can’t stay up until 5am but the spirit of last night’s Chez was just like the ones I remembered from years ago. The comfort of close friends, a cosy setting, good food and wine and a tasty cake that everyone dug into at their own pace.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
For The Cake
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (8 ounces) canned pumpkin puree
2 cups (7 ounces) sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (4 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature
For The Frosting
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 stick ( 3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (6 1/2 ounces) pure maple syrup, preferably Grade C
1 3/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) sifted confectioners sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position oven rack in center. Lightly coat an 8x8 square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Sift the cake flour, baking soda and baking powder, salt and spices into a medium bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until very light in color and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Beat the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl to blend. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and vanilla mixture to the creamed butter and sugar one tablespoon at a time. Allow each addition to completely blend before adding the next and scrape the bowl between additions. Add the pumpkin and blend well.
With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and finish mixing by hand. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 1 hour or until the top is firm to the top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
To make the frosting, place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and blend until smooth. Add the maple syrup and confectioners sugar and mix thoroughly, scraping down the bowl with a spatula to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated.
Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a plate on the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate. Using the back of a knife, spread a generous amount of frosting on top, garnish with walnuts and serve.