Posts Tagged cake

Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Pumpkin Spice Trifle 2It’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)

2 eggs

*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).





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Mardi Gras King Cake

king-cake3This might be the only recipe in this blog that isn’t mine. This is a traditional recipe provided by Chef Emeril Lagasse. Here’s the story of the King Cake:

“The King’s Cake has its roots in pre-Christian religions of Western Europe. It was customary to choose a man to be the “sacred king” of the tribe for a year. That man would be treated like a king for the year, then he would be sacrificed, and his blood returned to the soil to ensure that the harvest would be successful. The method of choosing who would have the honor of being the sacred king was the King’s Cake. A coin or bean would be placed in the cake before baking, and whoever got the slice that had the coin was the chosen one.

When Christianity extended its influence and began overshadowing the religions that came before it, many of the local customs were not outright abolished, but instead were incorporated into Christian tradition and given a new spin Catholic priests were not predisposed to human sacrifice, so the King’s Cake was converted into a celebration of the Magi, the three Kings who came to visit the Christ Child.”

According to tradition, you may not make and serve The King Cake before Twelfth Night (January 6th) or after Mardi Gras. (Weren’t rules made to be broken?)


2 envelopes active dry yeast

1/2 cup sugar

1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 cup warm milk heated to 110 degrees

5 large egg yolks at room temperature

4-1/2 cups unbleached flour

2 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp grated lemon zest

1 tsp canola oil

1 lb cream cheese at room temperature

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

5 tbsp milk at room temperature

3 tsp fresh lemon juice

purple, green and gold sugar sprinkles

1 king cake baby (or a pecan half)


Combine the yeast and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the melted butter and warm milk. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, then beat for 1 minute at medium-low speed. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest and beat until everything is incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and starts to climb up the dough hook. (If the dough is uncooperative in coming together, add a bit of warm water (110 degrees), a tablespoon at a time, until it does.)

Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingers, pat it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough, then flip the top half of the dough over the filling. Seal the edges, pinching the dough together. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isn’t a seam. Insert the king cake baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.

Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the icing. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons milk, the lemon juice, and the remaining 3 cups confectioner’s sugar in medium-size mixing bowl. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals, alternating colors around the cake.

The cake is traditionally cut into 2-inch-thick slices with all the guests in attendance.

YIELD: 20 to 22 servings

By the way, you can read more about the King Cake and other Mardi Gras traditions here.

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