Sunday, January 31, 2010

Let Them Eat (Chocolate Pumpkin) Cake

Tomorrow is Joan's birthday. I'm a big believer in birthday celebrations. Considering that we so rarely take time to appreciate the gift of life, birthdays remind us to do so, to make much of the people we love (or even just like). Besides, Joan's had a difficult year.

And of course, birthdays are an excellent excuse to eat.

In my office building, birthday celebrations are often fraught with much angst. In the past year, especially, it seemed that some people were being feted, and others were being forgotten. Some people had lots of colleagues who were willing to chip in for party fare, and other celebrations were left to chance. Some people were buying all of the cake all of the time. So just recently, we went back to the "monthly" celebration idea: everyone contributes $10, and we all eat all year long, and there is the usual underground grumbling about the fact that people don't feel like donating to the cause.

In principle, this is a good solution for a building full of complicated relationships. No one is left out, everyone is treated equally, and there is plenty of cake. Except it means that there are no home made birthday cakes (because the default is to get the share of the tiller, pick up grocery store cake, slice, and serve). Which I think is a complete travesty.

So I made a cake anyway.

This one is actually pretty good for you, courtesy of my husband's stepmother, who is a genius of substitutions, and I tweaked it a bit myself. I will likely pick up a second small cake on the way in tomorrow, in case there isn't enough food, but everyone will know which is the better treat.
And I suspect that Joan will appreciate something made with care and thought, something that won't make us all lapse into a sugar coma by mid-afternoon.

Did you know, by the way, that the phrase "let them eat cake" isn't even attributable to Marie Antoinette? Apparently, it was coined by a princess who was oblivious to the plight of French peasants, who had no bread; she thought they could simply nibble brioche, instead. Wouldn't the world be a better place if our world leaders made sure everyone had enough cake? Well, I can start small, I guess.

Glazed Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

1 cup white whole wheat flour

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup good cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

¼ tsp salt

1 cup nonfat buttermilk

1 15 oz can unsweetened pumpkin puree

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup apple butter which is 100% apples ... no sugar or other additives
¾ cup dark brown sugar packed
1 large egg room temperature

1 egg white at room temperature

¼ maple syrup
1 T va
nilla extract
1 t. - 1 T. instant espresso powder (deepens the flavor of the chocolate)

½ cup confectioner's sugar

1 T buttermilk

2 T chocolate chips or nuts for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 and coat 12-cup bundt pan w/cooking spray.

Whisk together flours, cocoa, baking powder and soda, pumpkin spice and salt in bowl.

Blend buttermilk, pumpkin, applesauce, apple butter, brown sugar in a separate bowl at low speed. Blend in eggs. Stir maple syrup, vanilla, and espresso powder.

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredient stirring only sufficiently to mix.

Transfer batter to bundt pan and bake 1-1/4 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes and remove from pan. Let cool completely before glazing.


Combine buttermilk and confectioner's sugar by stirring. Drizzle on cake and garnish with chips.
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