22 November 2009
When I saw this recipe, I thought: I must make this as soon as possible. How could I ignore a whole grain cake featuring pumpkin and the accompanying spices? How could I postpone cream cheese frosting studded with tiny spicy pieces of crystallized ginger? I couldn't. I had no reason to make this, no occasion and no need to have a whole cake sitting on the counter calling to me to have another delicious piece. So, I did not delay: I made it last week and brought it to work where my co-workers quickly devoured before it could make a noise as it sat innocently on the counter.
Now, I know what you are thinking: "Another recipe with squash? Thanksgiving is coming right up and we have no time to even think about this." Its okay, I understand. I just didn't want to let this slip by, something so simple, satisfying and easily crowd pleasing. When it comes to Thanksgiving, I wouldn't dream of forgoing pie for dessert (although I have made many squash recipes already this fall, I haven't had pumpkin pie and I am really looking forward to it). I there's a canned pumpkin shortage, and maybe you were saving that can or the squash from the farm for something else. I know its almost too late: after Thanksgiving minds turn to another holiday fast approaching and I start to think of other sweet flavors -- chocolate, mint, ginger in all kinds of sweets.
I was just thinking, that, maybe, you would come back to this little cake sometime this winter. Maybe you'll find that one of the squash you have saved from the fall harvest has a soft spot and needs to be used soon. Maybe you'll want something rich and comforting, yet humble and easy to bake on a cold winter's day. You could always wait until next fall, but I wouldn't recommend it. When you do get around to making this recipe, you will not be disappointed. And if you happen to bring it in to work you're co-workers will be quite pleased, too.
This recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book. It is a fabulous resource for making almost any baked good you could want using whole grains. They have lots of tips and ideas for making whole grains work really well in everything from breads to scones to cakes and more. I made this as a sheet cake because it was simple and easy to transport. I am sure that it would be a stunning two layer cake or be great as cup cakes. It would be good, too, with out cream cheese, but I am a sucker for cream cheese frosting.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup whole barley flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
15 ounces pumpkin, butternut or buttercup squash puree (one can)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the pan or pans of your choice. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Beat the brown sugar, butter and oil together until thick, creamy and well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed in. Stir in the pumpkin and then the dry ingredients. Mix until evenly moistened. Transfer the batter to prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched. Remove from the oven and let cool before frosting.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces (one package) of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
2 to 4 tablespoons milk, if needed, to make the frosting spreadable
Combine the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat them together until they are light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually beating well. Stir in the ginger, then add the milk a little at a time until the frosting is spreadable.