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Let Them Eat Cake (or Muffins)

My photographer is a little mad at me. This morning I baked Scott a pumpkin cake for Father’s Day breakfast. When I asked her to photograph my beautiful creation the best she could utter is, “it’s brown.” She tried various settings and backdrops and was very disgruntled until I let her eat a piece. Apparently brown is STILL boring to photograph. But what am I to do? This cake may be boring in a picture, but when you smell it baking you won’t care what color it is.

This cake has plenty to recommend it in spite of its neutral color. First, it’s really easy and not at all fussy to make. As long as you bake it for the right amount of time it always works. Second, you can dress it up or down several different ways (more on that later). Third, you can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Fourth, if you keep pumpkin in your pantry you can make it on a moment’s notice. And fifth, even though it’s not necessarily good for you, it does contain pumpkin, an ingredient that allows me to claim this as an appropriate breakfast confection.

Not necessarily in order of preference, here are my suggestions for the humble pumpkin cake:

1. Stir in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips to the batter before baking. The family was skeptical the first time I tried this but now it’s our favorite.

2. In addition to adding mini chocolate chips, drizzle chocolate glaze over the cake after it is cool. 

3. Eat the cake plain. Warm. Yum.

4. Toast slices of day-old cake in the toaster and spread with a little bit of butter.

4. Make mini muffins out of the batter. Place a large blob of cream cheese frosting atop each muffin. Kids (and most adults) get especially excited about this option because there is a 1:1 ratio of frosting to muffin.

5. Stir in chopped walnuts and/or raisins before baking. I’ve never actually tried this, but it seems like a good idea. Some in this household abhor chopped nuts in baked goods. The rest of them detest raisins. What am I to do? Maybe sometime I’ll try both and some coconut too. Any takers?

6. Drizzle softened cream cheese frosting over the cake and sprinkle with toffee bits or chopped walnuts.

7. Probably most boring, although acceptable is to bake the cake in a greased 9 x 13 pan and frost with cream cheese frosting when cool.

Pumpkin Cake
Cream together:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned pumpkin (15 ounce can)

In a separate bowl, stir together, then mix in:

2 cups flour (9 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ginger

For Bundt Cake: Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with “Pam with Flour” or prepare the pan with the grease and flour method.  (I have never had good luck when I spray a bundt pan with regular vegetable spray like Pam.  However, the Pam with Flour is like magic and much easier than the grease and flour method.) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Frost or not.

For muffins: line mini-muffin tins with muffin papers. Fill each cup about ¾ full with batter. Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from pans, cool completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting.

For Cake: Pour batter into greased 9 x 13 inch pan and spread evenly. Bake 30 to 40 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven. Test center with toothpick to ensure center isn’t undercooked. Cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Glaze:
Gently melt 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 teaspoons light corn syrup and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in the microwave. Stir until smooth and shiny. Using a spoon drizzle the glaze over a cold cake. Allow to sit until glaze becomes slightly firm.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 (or more) cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon milk (if needed)

Beat on high speed of mixer until smooth and glossy. Add milk or more powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency.

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