Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Baking by Request - Pumpkin Spice Bundt (aka "To Sift or Not to Sift")

Sorry the title on this one got so long, but I wanted everyone to be clear on what we're getting into in this Bundt post.

An author friend of mine who "writes food" better than pretty much anyone I know (and who just had another Regency romance novella come out in a collection, which you can find here) asked me if I had any recipes for a good Pumpkin Spice cake.

I started digging around, and in the same book that brought us the Apple Bundt from a few days ago, I found this Pumpkin Spice Bundt. I liked that the write-up the author included seemed to summarize my concerns about pumpkin cakes ("some tasted like pumpkin bread, others lacked zing"), and so I decided to try it. And, overall, I'm really glad I did (and, yes, I'll explain why there's a qualifier on that).

I decided to do a couple of things at the outset: I decided to make it with Gluten-free flour (so that I could send it to work with Christopher - whose team has some GF people on it), and I also decided to use a 10-cup pan, and then make smaller side-Bundts with the extra batter, so that those could also be walnut free.

Oh - a funny thing about nuts and recipes and grammar/punctuation. Did you know that there is supposed to be a difference between "1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts" and "1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped"? The first version would mean that the nuts were measured AFTER being chopped, while the second would say that they should be measured BEFORE being chopped. Does that make a huge difference? Maybe not in a half cup of walnuts, but if you were doing a larger quantity it probably would. And - well - it does make a slight difference in the half cup, too:

Exhibit A: 1/2 cup toasted walnuts (You can kind of see that they come up to the edge of the measuring cup in places.)
Exhibit B: 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (They don't quite reach the top of the cup any more.)
Unfortunately, I don't think all cookbook writers/editors/testers really pay attention to the grammar rules, but there you go.

Once my walnuts were all toasty and chopped, I moved on to the rest of the ingredients.

Yes, that's the same mini bottle of Bourbon that I used for the Bourbon Bundt.

The Food Lover's Companion came out because I needed to figure out a substitute for Allspice. Apparently it is so named because it tastes like "Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cloves combined" - all of which were in my jar of Pumpkin Pie Spice (along with some Allspice).
And now we come to the point where I took a wrong turn.

I know people talk about the changing leaves and the smell of dry leaves and all that as the color and scent of autumn, but the spices in this bowl are fall to me.
The dry ingredients - oddly - included the sugar. And they were all supposed to be sifted together. If you've been reading along, you know that I don't really care to sift things. And I wasn't entirely sure that the sugar would actually go through the sifter (okay - I'm pretty sure it would have, but I was feeling contrary), so I didn't sift my dry ingredients. Instead, I just whisked them well.

I don't know how much of a difference that truly made, but when I got done mixing everything together the batter was pretty thick.

I really started to second guess myself when I moved the batter to the pans, where it took up much less space than I'd expected.

The cake... well... it didn't rise a whole lot, which probably would have been fine if I had been working with lighter, sifted dry ingredients.

Unfortunately, since I had stacked the density cards against myself, the cake came out pretty thick.

What I will say, though, is that the house smelled a-MA-zing, and that the flavor was good. (I will say that I prefer pumpkin spice desserts when they've had a chance to cool - I think that the flavors of the spices come out more that way.)

The folks at Christopher's office all seemed to like it (at least they said nice things about it, and nothing was left at the end of the day), and I'm not sorry I made it.

Next time, though, I'm going to sift.

Do you have a recipe you'd like me to try? Let me know and I'll see what I can do!

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