Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Birthday Cake

In my very first blog post, I included a recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Cake that is a definite family favorite.  I have made it in just about every shape, but have never tried it as a three layer cake with cream cheese frosting. One of my first cousins turns forty today, and since I don't see him very often and we happen to be getting together tomorrow for a mini family reunion, I had to bake something.  I asked his wife (since it is always the women who talk the most), whether she thought he would appreciate a cake and if so, what kind is his favorite.  Her reply: "He likes any kind of pumpkin cream cheese icing combo."  Lucky for me, I knew a perfect recipe.

The main reason I am making it as a three layer cake is because I have a nice round cake carrier and we are going to have to travel about four hours in the car tomorrow with the cake. If I have any hope of arriving at my parents' house with the birthday creation in one piece, I figured keeping it securely covered and wedged between items in the trunk of the car is the best bet.  Normally I would try to make a frosting using just low fat cream cheese, but again, since this will be sitting out for so long before serving (planning to arrive right at dinner/ dessert time), I decided to use half butter since butter holds up better at room temperature than cream cheese.  I didn't want my beautiful tower of a cake to become a leaning tower of mush during the trip.

Since this recipe uses all whole grains and nutrient rich pumpkin, it is about as healthy a recipe as you can have for a cake.  Besides the one cup of sugar, (and of course the icing), everything else in it are extremely healthful, but you would never know that by how it tastes.  Even without the frosting, this cake is moist, flavorful and totally satisfying. This is definitely a recipe that allows you to feel good about having your cake and eating it too.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

3 C. organic whole wheat pastry flour
dry ingredients (mixed beforehand) and wet ingredients
2 T. ground flax seed
2 T. wheat germ
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 C. organic brown sugar
1/2 C. organic white sugar
1 C. organic pumpkin
1 C. organic buttermilk
1/2 C. organic canola oil
2 large organic eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Combine the flour, flax seed, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in a bowl.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the sugars, pumpkin, buttermilk, canola oil, eggs and vanilla, and mix together well.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until combined.  (batter may be thick) Spread into three 9-inch round cake pans and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

ready to bake
hot from the oven
ready to frost
Obviously adding frosting to this cake changes the nutritional benefit considerably, but this is a birthday cake after all.  I have frosted a version of this cake using a Greek yogurt icing that consisted of about 3 cups of plain Greek yogurt, strained overnight to reduce the moisture, 4 ounces of lowfat cream cheese, a touch of cinnamon and enough honey and/or brown sugar to sweeten it.  I used this for my daughter's birthday breakfast cake last year and it was a hit with the whole family, including my parents.  But this cake is going to a family reunion with 22 people, and since about 8 or 9 kids may be eating it, I wanted to make sure it was not "too healthy" tasting.  No matter which frosting you choose to make, it will be considerably better tasting and better for your body than any chemical concoction you can find in a can!  So go ahead, indulge for a birthday, or any special day, and eat a bit of sugar!

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 C. unsalted organic butter, softened
1  8 ounce package lowfat organic cream cheese, softened
5 C. organic confectioner sugar
3 T. organic milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a stand mixer, or with a hand held mixer, whip together the butter, cream cheese, confectioner sugar, milk and vanilla for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. If necessary, chill the frosting for about an hour so it is easier to work with.  (I didn't do this, but my cakes were frozen so they slowly hardened the frosting as I spread it).

pumpkin filling
Pumpkin filling and writing frosting:
1/2 C. organic pumpkin puree, strained (equals about a 1/4 C. afterwards)
1/4 C. organic dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 C. Cream Cheese Frosting

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Spread on the second layer of the cake and use the rest to decorate.

Happy Birthday!!

side view

ready to eat!!



  1. I plan to make this cake in a sheet pan for a party this weekend. I will decorate the top with candy corn.

    1. that sounds amazing! please post a photo!! :)