A pie isn't the only place where pumpkin pleases Thanksgiving: A pumpkin pound cake topped with bourbon cream puts an innovative spin on a traditional treat.

November 15, 1998|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Last year our family shared Thanksgiving with good friends in Rhode Island. Our hosts said they would prepare the bird, stuffing and vegetables, and another couple, also invited to the fete, offered to bring appetizers. I volunteered to make dessert - always my favorite part of a holiday menu.

After several days of contemplating sweet finales, I called the hostess to suggest a pumpkin cake. Much to my surprise, my friend told me she was not fond of pumpkin and never included it on the Thanksgiving menu. So I made a chocolate-caramel layer cake instead, and an apple bread pudding.

This year we're celebrating at our house, so I've revived my original idea. On past Thanksgivings, I've made pumpkin cheesecakes, pumpkin creme caramels and pumpkin brownies, but I was enticed by the thought of a pumpkin pound cake this year.

I pored over cookbooks and culinary magazines looking for a recipe, but to no avail. Then I spotted a sweet potato pound cake in Maida Heatter's "Book of Great American Desserts." I reasoned that pumpkin puree could replace mashed sweet potatoes, and where Heatter used ground peanuts as a topping, I would try pecans. The resulting confection was delicious with bourbon-scented whipped cream.

This cake is an especially good choice for a Thanksgiving menu for several reasons: It can be made two days ahead and left tightly covered at room temperature. It easily serves 14 to 16. And, it is a sturdy cake and can be transported easily if you are traveling out of town for the holidays. In fact, packed carefully, it will fit into the overhead compartment or under the seat in an airplane. However, don't let any fellow passengers know what you've got - they would much rather have a slice of this cake than a package of peanuts!

Pumpkin Pound Cake With Bourbon Whipped Cream

Serves 14 to 16

CAKE:

2/3 cup pecans

3 cups sifted flour (see Note)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into chunks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

4 large eggs

2 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (without seasonings)

GARNISH:

2 cups whipping cream

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 cup bourbon

Arrange rack one-third up from bottom of oven. Butter 10-inch tube or Bundt pan very generously with butter (even if it is nonstick surface) and set aside.

To prepare cake, chop pecans very finely by hand or pulse in food processor fitted with metal blade several seconds. Pat nuts in bottom of prepared pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla and both sugars and beat until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended (mixture may look curdled). Add pumpkin puree and mix to blend. On slow speed add dry ingredients and beat until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with spatula. Bake at 350 degrees until wood pick comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cake rest in pan 15 minutes. Loosen edges with knife. Place large plate over top of pan and invert. Cool completely. Store in airtight container at cool room temperature up to 2 days.

To serve, arrange cake, nut side up, on serving plate. Whip cream until soft mounds appear. Add powdered sugar and bourbon and continue to beat until just firm. Serve bowl of cream with cake. Makes 14 to 16 servings.

Note: Measure flour by sifting it into measuring cup. Do not scoop flour into measuring cup and then sift.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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