So, my sister turned 31 last week! Apropos of totally nothing, she still has the glowy, perfectly poreless skin of a newborn. In other related news, I’ve come to suspect that I also may be part vampire. Sadly, it seems that all I have inherited from that side of the fam is that I’m averse to sunlight (and probably wooden stakes, but who isn’t?).
The sister seems to prefer pumpkin spice lattes to virgin blood, though. BORING, but also a whole lot better-tasting, right?
Let me tell you… If you are fond of someone who enjoys a good pumpkin latte, this is THE cake for such a person’s special occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. Retirements, housewarmings, baby showers. Getting paroled. Whatever, you get the picture.
Pumpkin and espresso may seem like an odd combo at first, but this only works to your advantage. Once you remind everyone of pumpkin lattes, Clever Points… You will get them.
First, the cake. I ate this long before I made it, courtesy of my baker friend Rachel, who filled it with sour-cream-and-chocolate ganache. Like everyone else at the party, I fell in love: the cake is perfectly spiced, tender and all kinds of delicious.
What else do I have to say about this cake?
It’s extremely easy to put together. Mix wet, mix dry, fold in pumpkin, bake.
Another majorly-important plus: it’s a very well-behaved cake.
By that, I mean that I didn’t have to hold my breath while splitting the layers, or stick them in the freezer just to make sure they’re firm enough to be, oh, you know, touched and stuff. (I may have been traumatized by some cakes of my past, it’s true.)
Now, for the frosting. This was my very first time going the meringue route, and it’s possible that I’m not going back. I’m always searching for alternatives to regular buttercream, which I find way too sweet. Ganaches, cream cheese frostings, whipped cream frostings–all good alternatives. But this one is FANCY. Capital F, capital ANCY.
It requires scientific tools.
There were approximately 19 times during this process when I thought I’d completely screwed up. And I still came out victorious… I think you will, too, if you’re a newbie like me. This is nothing to be scared of–it’s just silky, firm, creamy, not-to0-sweet goodness. I got this, you got this.
My frosting skills, though… Sigh. I don’t got this. Don’t laugh! And by that I mean: definitely laugh.
Of course, none of that matters when you have big hands and little hands to light a ton of candles and put a plastic car on the cake.
I will admit–it needed a little something extra, visually speaking. Good call, boys.
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
2 cups pumpkin puree (note that this is slightly more than a standard 15-oz can)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2 tablespoons Kahlua