Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's for CHARITY

"But you're such a GOOD BAKER. And it's for a GOOD CAUSE."

That's how you get sucked into providing a snacky-treat for a bake sale. Besides being vain enough to fall for that. Heaven help me, I have NO idea how I'm going to get a frosted two-layer pumpkin cake safely out of the house, let alone take the train to work without a cakewreck (like what I did there?).

It's Day 3 of the Iron Chef Challenge - no gas, so no grocery store trips. In this household there are four main ways of using up vegetables when there's too much to throw away but not enough to really be a side dish - pizza, stirfry, pasta, or quiche. I went the pasta route tonight and sauteed some yellow squash, mushrooms, spinach, and Italian chicken sausage in a skillet with some fresh basil. I put the whole thing on top of whole wheat fusilli and grated a little Parmesan on top. Done.

Really, truly, I meant to go to the gym this evening. I'm a smidge behind in my workouts this week... and baking a cake really didn't help matters. At least it was a good cake, based on the sliver-samples from planing one of the layers!

Alas, no recipe for frosting. I made it up. I took one package of Neufachtel (the low-fat cream cheese), one or two tablespoons of butter, and some vanilla extract and vigorously took a hand mixer to it. I'd stir in some powdered sugar with a spoon (so the mixer didn't send it flying everywhere before it was incorporated), beat it again, fold in more sugar, etc. until it finally looked like frosting. When it seemed too heavy I added a little milk. Hopefully it still tastes like frosting tomorrow!

Here's the Pumpkin Cake recipe, perfect for an autumn bake sale - if you find a great cream cheese frosting recipe, by all means let me know.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder (really)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used the regular nutmeg in my pantry)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar (I accidentally finished up the last 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar before realizing my mistake, so mine is a mix of 1 cup light and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar. Not a big deal.)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup Lighter Bake fruit puree)
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup whole milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves.

2. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar and eggs at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the oil, then beat in the pumpkin puree. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk in 3 batches, beating well between additions.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick (or piece of spaghetti!) inerted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cakes, then invert them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

4. Frost when cool. Charge a lot for cake slices because it's for CHARITY.

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