Friday, October 14, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake and Awards

First the cake! Earlier this week, I entered the Pie vs. Cake Rematch hosted by Jenise Silva at Vermillion in Seattle. Twelve pies and twelve cakes from local bakers were entered to see whether pie or cake is the most popular. Last year, Jenise hosted the first Pie vs. Cake Contest (pie won) and it was so much fun she hosted it again this year. When I first heard about it, I immediately wanted to join in!

I normally choose to eat pie (or a pie-like dessert such as cobbler) over cake, but I was feeling inspired by cake. With fall flavors in mind, I created a Pumpkin Chocolate Cake with Caramel Glaze (and caramel corn!).

I wasn’t sure what to expect when Bob and I arrived at Vermillion, cake in hand (safely transported in my friend, Julie's, marvelous cake dome that belonged to her grandmother).

The room soon filled up as all the bakers arrived and set their baked goods on either the pie table or the cake table. After I set up my cake, Bob and I grabbed drinks at the bar, mingled with the bakers and other guests, and admired the baked creations. These were some gorgeous cakes and pies! Check out some amazing photos of them.

Judges were present to taste and vote on the pies and cakes while we chatted and kept a close eye on whichever pastry was at the judges’ table at the moment. There was a mix of excitement and nervousness in the air.

Then the announcement came that the judges had cast their votes. We gathered around and clapped and cheered as different bakers were called out. And in the end ... pie was victorious again!

We all brought plates and forks from home to taste these luscious treats. I sampled two of the winning pies, Apple-Pear and Honeyed Plum with Basil, and oh yes...they were award worthy! All in all a delicious night with fun people, and Bob and I went home in a sugar coma. Next year? I hope there will be another rematch! Still deciding if I'll bake a pie or a cake ...

(The recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is below.)

Now on to the awards! Recently, a food blogger I admire and enjoy very much passed on two awards to me and I am honored and thrilled! Thank you to Katherine Martinelli for the Versatile Blogger Award and the Cherry on Top Award. Katherine’s blog is inspiring, with her creative recipes, fun food adventures and stunning photography.

The rule for the award is to share seven facts about me and pass on the awards to 15 other bloggers. So, here are seven facts about me:

1. I used to be a social worker in foster care and adoption (I have a Master of Social Work).
2. My favorite beverages are sparkling water (love our Soda Stream), kombucha and champagne (I like bubbles!).
3. My brother is in the Foreign Service and his next posting is in Hanoi. Yes, I will be visiting him and eating my way around Vietnam!
4. I’ve been getting into country music and am loving Neko Case’s album The Virginian, especially the title song.
5. Growing up, my heroines were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott and Amelia Earhart.
6. I am an avid reader and always have a stack of books on my nightstand. Currently in the stack are:
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (I’m always inspired by her writing)
Organic Inc. by Samuel Fromartz (for the Slow Food Seattle book club)
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (we’re going to Australia in December)
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller (I loved her first memoir Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight)
The Little House Cookbook by Barbara Wilder (see #5)
A Game of Thrones by George Martin (reading with my son)
7. My favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice (BBC version with Colin Firth). And my husband and sons have watched it with me, too (and secretly liked it).

Now I’m delighted to pass on the Versatile Blogger Award and Cherry on Top Award. I feel fortunate and honored to be part of such an amazing, supportive, gracious blogging community. Thank you to all of you!

1. Baguette Taste - Wonder Bread Budget
2. Cheap Beets
3. Crackers on the Couch
4. Five and Spice
5. My Darling Lemon Thyme
6. My Pantry Shelf
7. Not Derby Pie
8. One Hundred a Week
9. Pranee’s Thai Kitchen
10. Talk of Tomatoes
11. The Past on a Plate
12. The Wimpy Vegetarian
13. This Little Piggy Went to the Farmers Market
14. Three Clever Sisters
15. Toast

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
Adapted from
Serves 8-10

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups canned pureed pumpkin
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
Caramel glaze (recipe follows)
1/2 cups caramel corn, roughly chop 1 cup (for filling and garnish, optional)
1/8 cup roasted cocoa nibs (for garnish, optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the pumpkin and milk together in a smaller bowl. Beat the butter and sugars with a mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla.

On low speed, add the flour mixture and the pumpkin mixture, alternating between the two. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Divide the batter (it’s a thicker one) between the two pans and spread evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes, until a tester just barely comes out clean. Let cool.

Caramel Glaze
From The Week’s Food & Drink

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat. Stir until smooth. Add the milk and let it come to a gentle boil. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. This glaze will harden rather quickly, so be prepared to use it soon. If it does harden, you can soften it with a little more evaporated milk.

To assemble cake
Place one layer of cake on a serving plate. Slowly pour almost half the glaze over it (it’s okay if it drips off the sides). Sprinkle the 1 cup chopped caramel corn evenly over, then pour a little more glaze on top. Place the second layer of cake over and pour the rest of the glaze over evenly. Decorate the top with the whole caramel corn and cocoa nibs. Slice and enjoy!


  1. D'aaaawww, Thanks! =) Your cake is beautiful. Too bad it didn't win. I want to make it, though. Chocolate, caramel, and pumpkin, who wouldn't want to eat the heck out of that?! And I love that cake dome. I've got a soft place in my heart for copper jello molds and to see a cake dome just knocks it out of the park!

  2. Aw shucks, thanks so much! I always enjoy reading your blog and am constantly amazed by your creativity and the continual stream of delicious food. And I am very honored to be grouped with such an amazing list of bloggers. Bashful, even.

  3. Wow! Thanks so much - you just made my day, or my week, or month. Really - I'm so honored that you would include my fledgling blog in your group of 15! Wow. I'm totally excited. I'm off to LA for a food photography workshop, but will pass along the gift next week pronto. And I love your recipe here!! And your photos are gorgeous - really beautiful. And the cake pan looks just like one my mom had. We always kept in on top of the refrigerator. So thanks also for whisking me back to my mom's kitchen for that memory! Happy Weekend to you and your family.

  4. Gee - Thanks for the honor of being on your list....woohoo! I will check out those other blogs.
    You should have won on the cake tin alone - how beautiful. The cake looked amazing - really professional and I'm sure was delicious.

  5. Goodness, I am late to the party of thank you's, but THANK YOU none the less. What an honor. I can't wait to pass along the award next week. What an honor.

    And, your cake is beautiful. You clearly have a gift for decorating. What a treat!

  6. Thanks heaps :-) Love that cake dome, I need one of those!

  7. Oh wow, oh amazing-ness! Thank you, Hannah!! And I can't wait to try out this cake. Yumyumyum :)

  8. This looks wonderful! I've never had pumpkins in cakes. Sounds like a great idea :-) .

  9. @B
    You are so welcome, B! And thank you for your kind words.

    I love copper jello molds, too, and have some beauties from my mother-in-law. She had quite the collection - treasures. I'd love to find a cake dome like this one - so special that it belonged to my friend's grandmother.

  10. @cheapbeets
    You are very welcome, Molly! And right back at you...I enjoy your lovely blog and recipes.

    My pleasure, Susan! I enjoy your blog immensely and am happy to pass this on to you. So glad to remind you of your mom's cake dome, too!

    And I'm envious of your photography course. I'd love hear any tips you find valuable. Hope you had fun!

    Thank you, Lisa! Isn't the cake tin lovely? I need to find one in a vintage shop (or keep borrowing my friend's!). It was such a fun -and sweet - evening.

  13. @my darling lemon thyme
    My pleasure, Emma! I, too, need to find a cake dome like this...time to visit some vintage shops. :)

  14. @Mikaela Cowles
    You are so welcome, Mikaela! And thank you for your sweet comment.

  15. @onehundredaweek
    My pleasure, Cate! A well-deserved award for you. :)

  16. @Cooking Gallery
    Thank you, Cooking Gallery! I appreciate you stopping by. :)

  17. Ditto on #7!!! (Except for the sons part!) The cake looks amazing and I love your cake saver. Those have got to be one of the best inventions ever.

    Thanks for the award--I need to go check out the other blogs!

  18. Wow, your cake looks fabulous. I showed my son and said, "we should make pumpkinand chocolate cupcakes!" He agreed, but said we should make the cake too! I can't argue with that:)

    That you so much for including me on your list. Your blog is lovely, so I am tickled that you like mine as well.

  19. @Lauren
    You are so welcome, Lauren!

    Happy to know we share a love of P & P. I need to find a cake dome like this one - or keep borrowing my friend's. It's always fun to have a mission when poking around vintage shops. I saw a classic old typewriter at an antique shop this past weekend and thought of you!

    Enjoy your weekend!

    My pleasure, Karen! Thank you for your sweet comment...I like your son's wisdom! I hope you enjoy the cake (and your weekend). :)


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