Perfect Autumn Cake

Welcome to the Canadian Thanksgiving edition of Abby Made Me Do It, in which I share with you my favourite cake of all time. Really. I’ve made a lot of cakes in my life, and I’ve sampled many more, but this one is the best, absolutely the best. It is also the perfect Thanksgiving dessert for those who are tired of the ubiquitous pumpkin pie.
It looks like this:It is, admittedly, not the simplest cake to make. There are multiple steps, and you need to start a day ahead, but trust me, the results are worth it.

This cake has four components. It consists of a hot milk sponge cake, filled with pumpkin cheesecake, frosted with sweetened whipped cream, and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. It is a divine combination. If you want to be really decadent you can brush the sponge cake with a bit of bourbon before assembly.

Perfect Autumn Cake

Step 1: Make the cheesecake.

Do  this at least a day before you plan to assemble the cake.

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 200.
  2. Line a 9-inch round pan with foil.
  3. Beat the cream cheese until very smooth. Beat in the sugar, spices and flour. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the pumpkin, vanilla, and sour cream.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake until only a golf ball sized circle in the center jiggles when you shake the pan. Start testing at 50 minutes (I didn’t time this, so it may take a while longer).
  5. Allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least overnight before proceeding.

Step 2: make the hot milk cake

This recipe is adapted from the Miette cookbook. The original recipe makes two 6-inch cakes. It makes slightly more batter than is ideal for a single 9-inch round pan. Feel free to use any extra to make a cupcake or two.

  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. Put the eggs, in their shells, in a pan of very hot tap water.
  4. Melt the butter together with the milk in a pot or in the microwave. Whisk them together vigorously to form an emulsion. Set aside to cool while you work on the eggs and sugar.
  5. Remove the eggs, which should now be warm but not cooked, and crack them into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla, then beat on high speed for 6 to 8 minutes (with a whisk attachment if using a stand mixer) until the eggs are extremely light and pale in color. The volume should at least triple and it will look like a soft meringue.
  6. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over the eggs. Fold them in.
  7. Give the butter/milk mixture another good whisking to blend them and pour over the batter. Fold the ingredients together until smooth.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan until it is 2/3 full and bake until the center is firm and springs back lightly when touched. I didn’t time this, but expect it to take maybe 35 to 45 minutes. NOTE: there will be leftover batter. Use it to make cupcakes or something.
  9. When the cake is completely cool, you are ready to start assembling it. Move on to step 3.

Step 3: Assembling the cake

  1. Let the cheesecake warm to room temperature.
  2. Using a serrated knife, carefully split the sponge cake into two separate layers. Place one on the serving plate. With a knife or metal spatula, scoop up the pumpkin cheesecake and spread it over the bottom layer of cake as though it were frosting. Use all of the cheesecake.
  3. Top with the remaining sponge cake layer.
  4. Put the whole thing in the fridge while you make the whipped cream frosting.

Step 4: Frosting the cake

  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  1. Combine all ingredients except pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and beat until the cream is stiff and spreadable.
  2. Spread whipped cream on cake.
  3. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
  4. Devour cake. I dare you to eat only one piece. Go ahead. Try.

6 thoughts on “Perfect Autumn Cake

  1. This sounds really good! I’m just wondering: what does the hot-milk cake add to the whole experience that couldn’t be achieved with a (simpler) yellow cake?

  2. Okay, I’ve been asked to provide dessert for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night, and one request was for cheesecake. This sounds like a super compromise (since I’m not a huge fan of cheesecake myself).

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