A couple of weeks ago, my blog turned seven.
I had to celebrate the occasion and what better way to do it than with cake. A spiced pumpkin cake with walnuts and orange zest, and a vanilla cream cheese frosting.
A moist, soft and fluffy yet substantial cake. A cake that’s deeply aromatic from all the spices —cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, cardamom— without being overwhelming to your taste buds. A cake that’s sweet but not cloyingly so. With the pumpkin having a subtle presence, offering that precious moist texture. With the walnuts adding crunch and the orange zest that inimitable citrus aroma.
With a frosting speckled with real vanilla seeds and a creamy, luscious consistency that pairs beautifully with the cake. With the cream cheese adding a bit of sourness to balance the sweetness and the orange zest on top bringing flavor as well as color.
Thank you all for being here these past seven years and I hope you stick around for the next seven.
Spiced pumpkin cake with walnuts and a vanilla cream cheese frosting
I used the classic, orange-colored pumpkin but you can also use a Hokkaido pumpkin (see it here on this post if you’re not familiar with it).
Yield: 1 cake / 16 small square pieces
for the cake
125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
175 g caster sugar
2 medium-sized eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
150 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger powder
⅛ tsp ground cloves
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of salt
175 g peeled pumpkin
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
75 g walnut halves, coarsely chopped
for the frosting
200 g cream cheese, at room temperature
125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150 g icing sugar
Seeds scraped from 1 fresh vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Special equipment: stand mixer, square baking pan (20x20 cm), baking paper, coarse grater, rasp grater
for the cake
Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and line with a piece of baking paper, leaving an overhang on all sides.
Preheat your oven to 160°C.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar, and beat on high speed until creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and then add the flour, baking powder, all the spices and the salt, and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
Grate the pumpkin on a coarse grater and add it to the batter together with the orange zest (keeping some of the grated zest for garnishing the cake). Add the chopped walnuts and mix well on low speed.
Empty the cake batter into the prepared baking pan and even the top with the back of a spoon or a spatula.
Place on the lower rack of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then transfer to the middle rack of the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes or until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Take the pan out of the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool, for about 15 minutes. Then, lift the ends of the baking paper and transfer the cake to the wire rack to cool completely.
for the frosting
In the clean bowl of the stand mixer, add the cream cheese and butter and beat with the paddle attachment on high speed until they are mixed well and you have a fluffy mixture. Add the icing sugar and the vanilla seeds (or paste) and beat on high speed until you have a creamy and smooth mixture. You should end up with a not too thick frosting, that’s very soft, smooth and creamy.
When the cake has completely cooled, add the frosting on top and smooth it with a spatula. Top with the orange zest and serve cut into squares.
The frosting will be very soft at first and it will become firmer after a few hours. It will never stiffen, but it will remain creamy and soft.
You can keep the cake at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.