The Cake That's Not A Cake – Pumpkin Cake with Honey Frosting

Well, this cake lied to me! It claimed to be a pumpkin cake with honey frosting, but soon after I began working on it I grew skeptical.

The batter was thick, even leveling it out in the pan was a little tricky. But as I tried my first bite it just seemed so familiar. I raced over to my recipe binder and began thumbing through the pumpkin recipes. It turns out this recipe is only one or two ingredients different from my favorite pumpkin BREAD recipe.

Pumpkin Loaf with Honey Frosting, Whisking

This really is a quick bread with frosting. It’s very heavy and dense, so make sure you serve it in small squares! This would actually be an amazing treat to have with your coffee in the morning and would serve that purpose much better than having it after dinner when you’re already full. In fact, I found some incredibly cute photos from someone who used the original Martha Stewart recipe to bake mini cupcakes. Bite size is the way to go here.

Ghost Baker Suggests Proceeding With Caution:

Beware the cook time. I used a square 8 inch pan because I don’t have a 9 inch, and I had a bit of a scare when I peeked into the oven at 55 minutes and the cake looked completely done. It had pulled away from the edges of the pan and was dark brown in the center and edges. I left it in for 5 more minutes but then became worried I was overcooking it. I did the knife test since I didn’t have any toothpicks, and it came out clean. But this time the knife lied to me. I poked at the center and it seemed a little squishy – it turns out the cake was like a pool that has a thick cover over it for the winter and I threw it back in the oven! To avoid this problem I would just try treating it like a bread and using a loaf pan (or, approximately 15 minutes for mini cupcakes and 25 for regular cupcakes).

Pumpkin Loaf with Honey Frosting, Leveling

I also used pumpkin cream cheese for the frosting instead of regular cream cheese. This gives the cake and the frosting some nice continuity, and it worked well with the honey.

And, woo hoo, you can make this recipe without any fancy gadgets – no stand mixers, food processors, pastry knives, etc. Dust off your whisk and wooden spoon!

Pumpkin Loaf with Honey Frosting, Chowing

Pumpkin Loaf with Honey Frosting
adapted from Martha Stewart
Prep: 25 minutes, Cook: Approx 1 hour and 20 minutes (when using a loaf pan)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon each allspice and cloves)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin puree

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
1 bar (8 ounces) reduced fat pumpkin cream cheese, very soft (or you can use regular)
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter your loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, butter (melted), and pumpkin puree until combined. Add the dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and mix gently until smooth.

Turn batter into prepared pan and level the top using a thin spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes while in the pan, then turn out and cool completely (right side up) on a wire rack.

To make the honey frosting – In a medium bowl, whisk softened butter, softened pumpkin cream cheese and honey until smooth and pale orange. Spread over cooled pumpkin loaf. Cut loaf into sliced to serve.

*If you prefer to use a square 9 inch pan, decrease baking time to approximately 50 minutes.

Zucchini Bread, A Fall Treat

Gold of a ripe oat straw, gold of a southwest moon,
Canada thistle blue and flimmering larkspur blue,
Tomatoes shining in the October sun with red hearts,
— Carl Sandburg, “Cornhuskers,” Falltime (1918)

I never had zucchini bread until last fall, but it was love at first sight. Zucchini and pumpkin are brothers.

Zucchini Bread

Though I’ve noticed many people seem to make bread to get rid of extra zucchini, I really just love the taste of zucchini bread! Despite being a summer squash it’s a perfect complement to fall recipes including butternut squash, stew, or turkey. And I appreciate any opportunity I have to combine cinnamon and cloves!

Everyone has their own taste as to how they like their quick bread – moist, nutty, rich, etc., but you want something that won’t dry out immediately. I have two recipes that I like to work with, the first one is a Betty Crocker zucchini bread (which can also easily serve as pumpkin bread by substituting 1 can of solid packed pumpkin for the zucchini), and the second one is a more adventurous recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

Zucchini Bread

Moist and Aromatic Zucchini Bread – Because For Ghost Baker, Fall is just Beginning:

You can find thousands of versions online and in cookbooks of certain dishes, so when I find two that I like I try to see how I can combine them and what I can learn from each. The Betty Crocker recipe is great because of its similarity to pumpkin bread, using cinnamon and cloves, and it’s versatility. However the cook time is a little off. I baked my loaves for 60 minutes as suggested and they came out just a little too done. 101 Cookbooks suggests slightly undercooking the loaves because they will continue to cook while cooling after being taken out of the oven. As with anything you bake, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on things towards the end of the cook time (If you click on our Flickr photo stream, the first photo in the zucchini bread series is from the time I used just the 101 Cookbooks recipe; you’ll see it comes out dense and the cook time was perfect).

I also like to grate my zucchini, including the skins, a little more finely. Make sure you drain them so that your loaves don’t get to watery. You want your batter to be relatively thick.

And if you think I enjoy Zucchini Bread, just wait for my Aunt Sue’s Pumpkin Bread recipe!

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Loaves
adapted from Betty Crocker and 101 Cookbooks

3 cups grated zucchini, including skins
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Move oven rack to the low position so that tops of pans will be in the center of the oven. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease two 8×4 inch loaf pans and sprinkle lightly with flour.

In a large bowl, combine zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs and mix. Stir in remaining ingredients leaving out nuts. Once incorporated, add the nuts leaving out a handful to be sprinkled on at the end – do not overmix your batter.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Use a rubber spatula to level the batter. Sprinkle remaining nuts on top of the batter.

Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pans on a wire rack. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Loosen sides of the loaves from the pans and remove from pans, placing the loaves top side up on a wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before wrapping tightly (if you wrap your loaves before they cool completely, you’ll get mold!). After wrapping, store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Prep: 15-20 minutes, Bake: 45 minutes, Cool: 2 hours
Makes 2 loaves, or about 24 slices each.