The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

November 17, 2015


I’ve stepped away from Food52 a bit. I was once obsessive, committed to the beautiful homemakers that submitted their creations for the site – anxious to try many things at home. There were combinations I’ve never heard of that seemed approachable yet new! But lately, meh.

Maybe it’s the move to Jersey that’s changed my mindset. Maybe a “short and stout” tea kettle for $525 seems like a bit out of sorts for what I would think their constituent base to be. Maybe their “Genius” recipe for cauliflower + hot water soup seems…not so “genius” after all? Whatever it is, I’ve moved away and transferred my attentions to the New York Times full blast.

But I went back.

I don’t know why, but I somehow ended up here for the Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Caramelized Pumpkin seeds. And wow was it worth it.

I was feeling terribly guilty for not cooking for some guests driving along way to see us. We went out and I split the guilt by making dessert. This cake disappeared in about 10 seconds after several helpings from each person. WORTH IT. I only changed one thing which was the obvious walnuts instead of pumpkin seeds.



For the cake:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) pumpkin purée
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites separated

For the frosting and the caramelized pumpkin seeds:

9 tablespoons butter, divided, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds or whatever nut you have on top (raw or toasted)


Preheat the oven to 325° F and position a rack in the center. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a bowl and set aside.

Use the whisk attachment of a stand mixer (or just a whisk) to combine the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and salt. With mixer on medium speed, add the egg yolks one at a time, waiting for one yolk to be fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Whisk in the flour mixture, until just incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whisk the three egg whites until they are frothy and white. Fold them into the batter using a rubber spatula until they were no longer visible (but be careful not to over mix).

Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake on the center rack in the oven. Begin checking the cake after 40 minutes. Mine took 43 minutes. Remove it when a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes, or until the cake is pulling away from the pan, before inverting it onto a wire rack.


Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, beat together 8 tablespoons of the butter and the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.

Gradually add the powdered and beat until the frosting is smooth with no dry traces of sugar.

2 cups. Add a pinch of cinnamon, and beat the frosting until incorporated.


In a small saucepan over medium heat, caramelize a tablespoon of sugar until it is a rich reddish-brown color.

You’ll want to stir the melted parts of the sugar towards the middle while avoiding over-stirring, which can turn the mixture dry and crumbly. Once the sugar is dark and fragrant, add the last tablespoon of butter and stir quickly until it has melted and the sauce is smooth.

Add the pumpkin seeds or nuts and stir until they’re evenly coated in sauce. Transfer the seeds to a plate lined with parchment paper so that they cool and harden.

Frost the cake when it is completely cool. You can do just the top of a fun look or do the whole thing. Let’s get real, both ways are fun.


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