I read a lot, and a lot of it is very insignificant fiction. You know mystery novels, chick lit, historical fiction, basically anything that looks like a fast entertaining read as I quickly skim the shelves of my local library. By no means is quick fiction all that I read, but it is part of my weekly routine. So what does this have to do with cake?
Recently I picked up two books off the shelf that promised to be mysteries with recipes... interesting. The protagonists are crime solving caterers, I know, ridiculous. Both the novels and the recipes were nothing special, but one recipe caught my eye as being timely and tasty sounding. I decided to make it. The book calls these pumpkin bars, but make no mistake, it's pumpkin cake. To me a bar is dense and chewy, while a cake is significantly lighter. I was initially disappointed as I watched it bake, since I wanted bars, but the cake is so tasty that I got over it. Reminiscent of carrot cake thanks to the cream cheese frosting and the spices, but very fluffy. Call it what it is [cake!], and this is a recipe worth making.
Pumpkin Bars Cake adapted from A Catered Halloween: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Crawford, ©2008, Kensington Books; New York, NY.
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups (16 ounces) canned pumpkin (the can I used only had 15 oz.-- it worked fine)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger (my addition)
1/2 tsp allspice (my addition)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) softened butter
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
Beat all the icing ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Add more powdered sugar if the icing is too runny. Put aside.
Combine flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to evenly incorporate. Set aside. Beat the eggs, sugar, oil and canned pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix well until smooth. Pour the batter into a greased 9"x13" pan.* Bake at 350° F for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely. Apply the icing. Keep refrigerated.
*The original recipe called for a 10"x15" pan, which I did not have. Perhaps that would have been enough to spread the batter out thin enough that it resembled bars and not cake, but since there is both baking powder and baking soda in the recipe, I doubt it. I think doing this will just result in very thin cake. If you try it, please let me know.
Meanwhile, I'll make this again, but I'm definitely still looking for a pumpkin bar recipe.