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Pumpkin Patch Cakes

These petite pumpkin-shaped cakes can be served on their own or joined together with frosting to form three-dimensional pumpkins. Dust the cakes with confectioners' sugar, finish them with colorful frostings, or pipe on smiling or scary jack-o'-lantern faces.

Ingredients:

For the cakes:

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 5 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 14 Tbs. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 2/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 2/3 cups pumpkin puree

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Food coloring as desired

Directions:

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously grease and flour the wells of a pumpkin patch pan; tap out excess flour.

To make the cakes, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Divide half of the batter between the wells of the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cake half comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake halves cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes.

Gently tap the pan on a work surface to loosen the cakes. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cakes cool completely before decorating. Wash and thoroughly dry the pan, grease and flour the wells and repeat with the remaining batter.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in food coloring as desired.

To assemble the cakes, using a bread knife, cut off any portion of each cake that rose above the rim of the pan. Place a cake half, flat side up, on a cake stand or plate and spread the frosting on top. Place its matching cake half, flat side down, on top. Repeat with the remaining cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then decorate as desired.

For unassembled cake halves, decorate the exterior of each half as desired.

Makes 24 cake halves or 12 assembled cakes.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.