I just love food magazines, but what I love even more is having an excuse to buy one. We went to Vegas for my sister-in-law’s wedding and if traveling with two children under the age of four isn’t excuse enough–I have no clue what is. We spent the night in Seattle to make it easier to catch our morning flight; however, when you have a little girl who comes in at 4:45 to see if it’s time to go on the airplane…you know you’re in for a rough morning. There was one point of the boarding process where both girls were crying (rather loudly), while I made it a point to not look at the faces on the other passengers & simply survive. I was waiting for those precious words from the pilot, “we’re now at 10,000 feet, so you can turn on any electronic devices…cell phones, music, LAPTOPS (I think only Ben & I heard it this loud).” That laptop was never pulled out so quickly or a My Little Pony DVD popped it so rapidly. I think we made record time.
The day before I had the girls with me on an errand to Target to get the coveted ‘headphone splitter,’ which was about the best investment for $4.99 one could make with an upcoming airplane ride (& two little kids). I’m definitely not above videos at a time like this, so if you’re that mom who has a special bag full of toys, crayons, paper & other distraction keepers…well, bless you! Once the headphones were on, two girls comfortably (and rather quietly) sitting next to each other watching Ponies–Ben and I gave a nod of approval (wondering if parents were approved to get complimentary liquor). That’s when I pulled out the Fine Cooking Magazine and read each article, because I could. I fell in love with this cake and dreamed of when I could make it. And since I still have pumpkin puree in my freezer from the late Autumn of last year–I knew it was destiny. It should be yours too, and that’s why I’m sharing it, because I care about your destiny when it comes to Autumn desserts and not wanting to look bad when you bring a store-bought pumpkin pie. Your friends & family will rave, as mine did with, “mmmm…..YEAH. that was killer. awesome,” or “It was dangerously delicious!”
A Year Ago: My Roots (Machaca)
This is adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine. The original recipe calls for adding candied ginger to the nuts (1 1/2 Tb chopped) after the nuts have been thoroughly coated, but I didn’t have any, so I sprinkled in ground ginger instead. This cake probably takes about 2-3 hours to make from start to finish and should be made the day of or cover in a cake dome for up to 2 days. The nuts will not be as crispy the second day. When you are browning butter, it is even more essential that you use your olfactory senses (smell) than your eyes. It will go from a popcorn smell to a nutty (walnut, hazelnut) smell.
For the cake:
6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, more for pans
9 oz (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, more for pans
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups Sucanat sugar
2/3 cup Rapadura sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree, (how to roast & puree pumpkin)
For the Topping:
1 1/2 Tb unsalted butter
2/3 cup pecans
1/2 cup unsalted, raw pumpkin seeds
2 Tb Sucanut sugar or light brown sugar firmly packed
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
For the Frosting:
4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
5 oz (1 1/4 cups) powdered sugar
Make the Cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the bottom & sides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Melt the butter in a 1 quart heavy bottomed pan, stirring occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown (around 4-6 minutes) and when it smells nutty. Pour the butter into a small bowl and allow to cool, but not set for about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, add all of your dry ingredients and whisk them together (flour, spices, salt, & baking soda). In a large bowl, combine all of your wet ingredients, except the butter (note: sugar is almost always considered a “wet” ingredient) and thoroughly mix (Pumpkin puree, eggs, both sugars, buttermilk). With a rubber spatula, stir in the dry ingredients from the medium bowl until just combined. Now, whisk the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter equally between the two pans.
Bake the cakes for 28 minutes (again make use of those olfactory sensors during baking as I baked my cakes for 27 minutes, because the cake smelled done), or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool 10 minutes in the pan. Using a butter knife, run it around the outside of the cake to loosen and then turn it onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Make the Topping: Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans & pumpkin seeds and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pumpkin seeds begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar/Sucanat & salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in ginger. Remove from heat and cool nuts in pan.
Make the Frosting: Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1 quart pan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally (just like before for the batter) until it turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4-6 minutes. Pour browned butter into a bowl and allow it to sit on the counter for 5 minutes to let the solids settle. Carefully transfer bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from the bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids. Using an electric mixer, combine the butter, cream cheese & brown sugar on medium-high speed until light & pale and brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the powdered sugar until it is nice & fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Assemblage: Get a large cake plate and place one cooled cake top side down. Spread about 1/2 -2/3 cup of frosting on the cake. Take your other cake and place it top side down. Frost the top and sides with remaining frosting. Top the cake with glazed nut/seed topping. Serve immediately. **If you’d like, you could take 1/2 cup of the nut mixture and sprinkle it over the first layer of frosting to sandwich it between the two layers. Then, use the remainder for the top.