It’s fall. And it’s time for all things pumpkin. I am not much of a dessert maker, although when I decide to do it I’m pretty adept at it. But if we have a dinner and somebody asks me what to bring, I usually say dessert.
The other night we had a dinner and I stepped outside the norm and made a great pumpkin trifle. Of course, you can get carried away with this kind of thing. I confess that I didn’t make my own cake. It’s not that I can’t. It’s just that I don’t feel the need unless I’m working at a leisurely pace and feel the urge to do so. There are just some days when there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. I simply bought a Duncan Hines spice cake. That being said, I do have a spice cake recipe that was given to me by a friend whose aunt swears it’s the best spice cake ever. Therefore, I’m including it here!
For this recipe, you’ll need a 2-quart trifle bowl. They’re worth the investment because they are versatile and can be used for many things, like fruit salads at your summer cookout. You’ll also need a 13″ x 9″ pan for the cake.
Ingredients for Spice Cake
spray oil and flour (for preparing baking pan)
2 cups cake flour*
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
2 tbsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup buttermilk (not powdered)
*This will work out fine if you use all-purpose flour, but cake flour makes it a bit more crumbly.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Mousse
2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
30 oz of pure pumpkin (canned is perfect)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp pumpkin pie spice*
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chilled heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
*This should be readily available at the supermarket. If not, you can make it from cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.
Ingredients for Whipped Cream
2 cups chilled heavy cream
4 tbsp granulated sugar
1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
Ingredients for Garnish
Pumpkin Pie Spice
The first order of business is to make your cake, whether you’re using the boxed variety or making your own.
Make the Cake
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, spray your 13″ x 9″ cake pan with baking spray and lightly flour it.
Place the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt and brown sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk together uniformly. Add the buttermilk and butter to the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes until completely incorporated and the batter begins to look fluffy. The batter should be thick at this stage.
Add the two eggs, and beat for about another two minutes. The batter should now be the texture of homemade whipped cream.
Pour it into your prepared 13″ x 9″ baking pan, evening out the batter with a spatula. This recipe calls for baking for about 50-55 minutes because it is in a traditional cake pan. However, I’m suggesting that this might be ready in about 22-26 minutes in the longer, thinner pan. Keep an eye on the bake.
Make the Pumpkin Mousse
Sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over cold water in a small saucepan. Allow it to sit for about a minute to soften. Bring to a simmer, stirring it well until all the gelatin has dissolved. Allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Whisk together the pumpkin, gelatin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl until it is well incorporated.
Beat the heavy cream and vanilla using a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Then, incorporate the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture. Mix this gently but thoroughly.
Make the Whipped Cream
Beat heavy cream and vanilla in a bowl with a hand mixer until it holds peaks. The peaks for the whipped cream should be slightly stiffer than those on the whipped cream used for the pumpkin mousse.
Assemble the Trifle
Once the cake has cooled, slice it into 1-inch pieces. Put half of the spice cake in the bottom of the trifle bowl. Top with half of the pumpkin mousse, then half of the whipped cream. Repeat this process one more time with the rest of the cake, pumpkin mousse and whipped cream. Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice on the top layer of whipped cream and sprinkle with pepitas (raw, shelled pumpkin seeds).