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.

Carrot Cake for 100

My dear friends Daryle and Heather got married last weekend. I made the cake.

Heather’s favourite cake is carrot, which thrilled me to no end. Wedding cakes take a while to decorate, which means that you need to bake them a bit ahead, and do your best to keep them from going stale before the reception. Carrot cake stays naturally moist and delicious for days.

The wedding theme was travel, a passion of both Daryle and Heather’s, and the entrance to the reception was decorated with old-fashioned suitcases. Unbeknownst to Heather, I obtained a photograph of them ahead of time, and copied them with the cake. Each tier is a different suitcase.

All in all, this cake took about 20 hours to bake, frost, and decorate. The decorations are done with a 1:1 blend of fondant and modeling chocolate, which is my preferred medium to work with because it creates an optimum balance between actually tasting good and being easy of roll and shape.

I’m quite pleased with my decorating job, though not with my cake leveling skills. The suitcases are a bit off-kilter. It’s been a while since I’ve done a wedding cake.

Wedding Carrot Cake (multiply by 6 to feed 100)

  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup drained, crushed pineapple
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.
  2. Combine the oil, sugar, carrots, pineapple, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs and stir until well mixed.
  4. Add the flour and stir until just blended.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 40-45  minutes, until center of cake is set.
  6. Immediately after taking the cake out of the oven, poke it several dozen times, all over with a toothpick, and pour on hot buttermilk glaze. Let cool completely and frost with white chocolate  cream cheese frosting.

Buttermilk Glaze

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 T. golden syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. About 15 minutes before cake is finished baking, combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will foam considerably. This is normal. Do not panic. Just keep simmering and stirring.
  2. Pour hot glaze over the hot cake.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 8 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled until only slightly warm
  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter with the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until well blended.
  2. Keep beating while you slowly drizzle in the white chocolate.
  3. Continue to beat until frosting is light and fluffy.