Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Cakes

Yes indeed, I'm still on a fall kick.  What flavor says fall better than pumpkin?  Especially pumpkin and cream cheese frosting, yum!  I thought it would be fun to make a pumpkin cake that a pumpkin...or 3 pumpkins to be exact.
Let me start by telling you about recipes. 
The pumpkin cake recipe that I used came from Nestle.  All their stuff is copyrighted so I probably shouldn't put their recipe here on this post.  I can, however, tell you where to find it.  Luckily, they have it on a web site for all the world to see, here.  This is the best pumpkin cake I have ever eaten.  As for the frosting, I have a little explaining to do.  I altered my go to buttercream recipe to make it a cream cheese frosting that would crust.  It did crust for me(very lightly), but the consistency was a little thin.  Yes, I know, I could have added more powdered sugar.  Problem was that I used all I had and that wasn't quite enough.  It was not a total loss.  I managed to get the pumpkins made and the flavor was delicious.  It was just a little hard to work with.  So...I'll tell you how I made the frosting, but it needs a little tweaking to be perfect.  You'll find the recipe at the bottom of this post. 

On to the pumpkin construction!  I baked the cake in a small bunt pan, the one that has 6 little bundts in the same pan.

 Spread frosting on one little bundt...
 and turn it over.  I put a piece of parchment paper under in hopes of making it easy to move the little pumpkins to the serving plate.  Next time I will give each pumpkin its own little cake board.  (Side note-Would you look at all that yummy streusel!)
 Spread some frosting on top of the bundt.  It is about to get squished so it doesn't have to be neat.
 Put another bundt on top and press down firmly. (another side note - I do not like the counter tops in this house.  I try to crop them out when I can.  They are on my list of things to be changed.)
 Spread frosting over the whole cake.  At this point I remembered that I like my turntable for this part.
 Color some frosting orange for the second pumpkin.
 Make some darker orange for the third pumpkin.
 I didn't want all three pumpkins to be the same shape, so I trimmed the cakes for the third pumpkin to make it shorter.  This also allows you to taste test your pumpkin cake by eating the trimmings, mmmm.
 Let the pumpkins sit for awhile so the frosting can crust.  I then smoothed the frosting using a viva towel and my hand to "iron" the frosting.  I also put some vertical grooves to make it look more pumpkin-like.  This is where you can really start to see my frosting problem.  I couldn't keep it from looking bulgy at the seam since the frosting was too thin.  Good thing pumpkins are not perfectly round.
 Mix up a little brown food coloring and vodka for paint.  When painting on butter cream the brush needs to have very soft bristles. 
 Paint some grooves and shadows on the pumpkins to give them a little more character.  You can adjust the strength of you color by changing the ratio of vodka to color.  More vodka = lighter color   Less vodka = darker color.
 For the leaves I used green fondant.  Roll it out very thin and cut out the leaf shapes.  This particular cutter is a maple leaf but it was close enough to work for a pumpkin leaf.  I'm sure a horticulturist would balk but I'm going for the over all look, not biological correctness.
 I used my handy-dandy plastic stick with the wood grain to texture the leaves.
 Give the leaves a little paint and let dry on an uneven surface(you don't want them to be flat).  You should probably let them dry longer than I did.  Mine only got about an hour at best.  I had some hungry boys wanting to eat this for dessert and I was running out of time. 
 Roll some snakes with the green fondant for some vine tendrils.  Wrap them around a stick or paint brush handle to dry.
 I forgot to take pictures of the stems in progress.   Remember, hungry boys...running out of time....   Anyway, the stems are hand formed out of brown fondant and painted with some streaks with the vodka paint.  Place the pumpkins on a serving plate.  I chose my glass pedestal cake stand.  Arrange the leaves and vine tendrils around/on the pumpkins.  Enjoy!
My hungry boys were happy.  It was time to devour the pumpkins.

Almost forgot...

My Recipe for Imperfect but Still Yummy Cream Cheese Buttercream

1 1/3 cups vegetable shortening
8 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered coffee creamer
2/3 cup sour cream
2 lbs. powdered sugar

As mentioned above, this frosting was too thin.  Be prepared to add more powdered sugar or reduce the sour cream.  When I get this recipe perfected I will certainly share the new and improved version. Thank you for your patience.