How Much Do You Love Canned Pumpkin?

We can't deny it anymore: Fall is here and that pretty much means it's time to incorporate pumpkin into everything. Some of my favorites are pumpkin pie, pumpkin loaf, and pumpkin pancakes! But should one use canned pumpkin purée or make their own from scratch? During the holidays the canned stuff is my go-to, because it makes life so much easier, especially during a time crunch. I would also argue that the canned pumpkin is smooth, flavorful, and reliable.

Out of everyone in my family, my younger brother Gabe has always been the biggest supporter of canned pumpkin. But it wasn't until recently (we now live together) that I found out that he is quite fond of it. He takes pride in being a healthy guy, so for him, it's a quick way to satisfy a sweet tooth while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Canned pumpkin is a super food (because it has carotenoids and anti-oxidants), and 1 cup contains less than 100 calories and just 1 gram of fat-plus, it provides 7 grams of fiber.

Yesterday my brother made a smoothie using pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, a little honey, and some milk. "Delicious!" he stated as I made a look of disgust. Last week I saw him ingest a bowl of what he likes to call, "Pumpkin Dream". It has two layers: The first is canned pumpkin puree mixed with a little bit of pumpkin spice and fat free vanilla pudding; the top layer is fat free cream cheese whipped with sweetener. On numerous occasions I've seen him eat the whole bowl as if it were an ice cream sundae. I've tried it and it's not bad, but it's no sundae.

My brother's next pumpkin experiment? A peanut butter and pumpkin sandwich. I'm a little worried . . .

Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake

Bon Appétit | October 2007

Julie Hasson

Yield: Makes 12 servings

Moist spice cake layered with cream cheese frosting adds up to one irresistible autumn treat.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut plus additional for garnish

Frosting:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)

Preparation

For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; dust pans with flour. Sift 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and oil in large bowl until combined (mixture will look grainy). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until incorporated. Stir in raisins and 3/4 cup coconut. Divide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cakes completely in pans on rack. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper. Turn cakes over, rounded side up. Using serrated knife, trim rounded tops of cakes to level.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dark rum and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating just until frosting is smooth after each addition (do not overbeat or frosting may become too soft to spread). Place 1 pumpkin cake layer, flat side down, on platter. Spread half of cream cheese frosting over top of cake to edges. Top with second cake layer, trimmed side down. Spread remaining frosting over top (not sides) of cake. Sprinkle additional coconut over. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Cut cake into wedges and serve.

GOOD TO KNOW:
It's better to underbeat the frosting than overbeat it. That bit of restraint makes for a slightly firmer frosting that's easier to spread.

Do you love canned pumpkin that much? Do you have any healthy recipes worth trying?

By Carolina Santos-Neves

Photo by Victor Schrager

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