You guys. YOU GUYS.
Look, I know it’s been awhile since I posted, and I’m sorry. But I’m not returning to this blog empty-handed. I’ve come with one of the best recipes I’ve ever made, and I hope and pray that right after you read this post, you’ll run to the nearest shopping center to pick up any of the ingredients you don’t currently have in your kitchen, and then get to baking STAT.
One of my coworkers recently celebrated a birthday, and since she loves pumpkin pie and her birthday is at the end of October, my boss usually picks up a pie at the grocery store for our birthday celebration. But this year I came across a recipe for “pumpkin pie cake” and I thought it would be a nice change. I did a test run with that recipe and it was totally blah. (In its defense, I did try making it with white sugar substitute, whole wheat flour, and applesauce instead of the canola oil, so maybe it wasn’t the recipe’s fault.)
So I said to myself, self, let’s just make something wonderfully decadent instead of trying to go “light.” And where does one go for wonderfully decadent food? I don’t know about you, but *I* often go to The Pioneer Woman. Or the Barefoot Contessa. Both are big fans of butter and sugar and cheese, cheese, cheese, and you really just cannot go wrong with any of those things. Unless you are trying to become very svelte. Which, theoretically, I’m trying to do, sort of, but I just love cake SO MUCH…
I digress. Back to the matter at hand.
This time my very good friend Ree (yes, The Pioneer Woman and I are totes on a first-name basis, seeing as we have never met and she’s never had a chance to say, “please call me Mrs. Drummond or better yet don’t call me at all”) did not disappoint me. I started with this recipe and tweaked a little bit. I baked a test cake, and it was devoured at work (in a different department, so my coworker would not discover what I was plotting for her birthday) and I got some feedback. So I made some more tweaks. And now we have what I have decided to call Drunken Punkin Cake and it is a Thing Of Beauty.
Drunken Punkin Cake
For the cake:
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels, anything you have in the cupboard will probably work)
- 2 & 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat, but you can use all-purpose. But do NOT use self-rising.)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon*
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg*
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cloves*
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground allspice*
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground ginger*
- 1 stick of butter, softened
- 1 & 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3 whole eggs
- 1 & 1/4 cup sour cream (I used reduced-fat, you could of course use full fat)
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 & 1/4 cup chopped pecans
For the icing (inspired by this recipe):
- 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened**
- 2 Tbsp butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- splash of half-and-half cream
To make cake:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 x 13 inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, combine whiskey and raisins.
- Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.***
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition.
- With the mixer running, slowly add flour mixture, mixing well until it’s fully incorporated, and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add sour cream and then pumpkin, mixing till just incorporated.
- Drain raisins and fold into the batter, along with 1 cup of pecans. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, til a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
To make icing:
- Beat together cream cheese, butter, nutmeg, and vanilla til well combined. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating till fully incorporated after each addition. If batter becomes too thick for your taste, add a little half-and-half as you’re mixing it up.****
- Frost cake liberally and sprinkle 1/4 cup reserved pecans on top. Serve to admiring friends and family.
- * You can substitute one tablespoon of pumpkin pie or apple pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
- ** Kroger sells blocks of cream cheese made with Greek yogurt – it’s WAY lower in fat and higher in protein than regular cream cheese, which I thought sorta made up for the super sugary buttery cake.
- *** I sifted the first time I made the cake and didn’t the second time. Although the cake wasn’t bad when I didn’t sift, I thought it was considerably denser. I think I learned that if a recipe calls for sifting, it’s probably a good idea to sift, even though NOT sifting wouldn’t necessarily ruin the cake. If you don’t have a flour sifter (who does?) you can just use a fine-mess strainer. Pour your ingredients into it a little at a time and gently tap it over a large bowl.
- **** Be careful, because it will thin out quickly. (Which isn’t necessarily a BAD thing… I thought it was kind of nice to have a very shiny, sticky, free-flowing icing. And regardless of what it looks like, it’s going to taste GOOOOD.)
My sister was on board with this cake until I mentioned the raisins. I think her exact words were “Raisins are bullshit.” Personally, I disagree with her, and I did not feel that the raisins were overly raisin-y after being soaked. They added to the taste of the cake but didn’t stand as chewy, sticky mini-prunes cluttering up an otherwise lovely spice cake. BUT if you just cannot handle raisins, by all means, leave them out.
You could also substitute walnuts (or something else) for the pecans if you prefer, or omit the nuts altogether. But trust me, the texture and flavor of the nuts really take this cake up a notch.
Also also also:
Several of my baked-good-guinea-pigs said that they could not taste the whiskey in this cake, even though I had soaked the raisins in it for a good hour or so. And they were people who are not drinkers or fans of hard liquor and therefore would have noticed a distinct whiskey flavor. No one reported catching a buzz from eating the cake – except for me, because I’m totally paranoid. I was probably feeling woozy just because I was worried about getting woozy. Or maybe it’s because I ate a GIGANTIC piece. Or it might have been an intense sugar rush. Just proceed with caution.
I really hope you enjoy this cake. I think it will be in my holiday dessert rotation for many years, as it was SUPER easy to make and a BIG hit with everyone who tried it.