Blog Archive

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just in Time for Thanksgiving!

 Just in Time for Thanksgiving: 

Crystallized Ginger and Black Pepper Pumpkin Mini-Cakes
High Altitude Baking Adjustments
by Victoria Challancin

It was another of those "perfect storm" of circumstances that forced me to make this cake:  friends coming over to watch a movie, ingredients on hand, a recipe from a blog with a recipe flagged.  The result:  Crystallized Ginger and Black Pepper Pumpkin Mini-Cakes.

I had bought a ridiculously-priced (about 80 pesos) large can of pumpkin and was looking for something new to do with it, when I stumbled across the following recipe from a blog by Donalyn Ketchum.  I threw in a few extra ingredients and made some adjustments for High Altitude Baking required here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where the GPS reads 6700 feet outside my front door.  I also decided to make mini-bundt cakes just because I love the shapes.  Black pepper?  Well, yes.  It's an old Southern tradition to add a teaspoon of black pepper to pound cakes.  The glaze is my own idea, which I made up as I went along.  

Note:  I will include the recipe as written by Donalyn Ketchum in her blog and will add my own changes and notes to San Miguel readers in brackets beside them.

Crystallized Ginger and Black Pepper Pumpkin Mini-Cakes

3/4 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature  [4 eggs]
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup light molasses               [I had to used Mexican piloncillo melted with a bit of water]
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons candied ginger, finely chopped (sprinkle with granulated sugar to keep it from sticking together as you chop) [In San Miguel you can buy crystallized ginger at Moonrise Health on Calle Órganos]

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour      [plus 2 tablespoons]
1 teaspoon baking soda            [I used 1/2 teaspoon]
1/2 teaspoon baking powder    [I used 3/4 teaspoon]
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon   [heaping--I actually used 1 1/2 teaspoons]
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg     [scant]
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
[My addition:  3/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper]

1/2 cup buttermilk                    [I used Mexican crema ácida]

Preheat the oven to 350F [I used 375F].  Grease two 9-inch cake pans with solid shortening [I used a mini-bundt pan plus 3 8-oz ramekins greased with Pam].

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter until creamy.  Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Gradually, beat in the eggs, one at a time until each one is incorporated.  Add, and beat well, until completely incorporated the pumpkin puree, the molasses or melted piloncillo, the vanilla, and the candied ginger.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and powder,  salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  Set aside.

Measure 1/2 cup buttermilk or Mexican sour cream and set aside.

Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream, beating well between each addition, and scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Dived batter evenly in the prepared pans/molds.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes [I baked mine for about 40--but it could be my oven], roatating pans after 20 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, with no crumbs sticking to it.  It is easy to under-bake a moist cake like this, so don't take it out too soon.  When done, cool for a couple of minutes in the pans, and remove carefully, running a clean knife around the edge to loosen, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Note:  If you want to make the salted pecans and sour cream frosting used in the original recipe, refer to the link provided above.

Ginger and Black Pepper Glaze
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Juice of 1/2 yellow Key lime (or lime or lemon...)
Scant 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Pinch of cloves
3 Tablespoons heavy cream (or milk--even low-fat is fine)
3 to 5 Tablespoons milk 

Melt the butter in a small heavy pan.  Add the crystallized ginger and allow to soften for a minute.  

Put the confectioners' sugar in a medium-sized bowl and add the butter mixture and remaining ingredients. Adjust consistency by adding more milk if necessary.  You can add less milk/cream or substitute softened cream cheese if you prefer a stiffer frosting to a glaze.

These unfrosted cakes were almost impossible to photograph on the red platter with the green napkin behind them:  The colors do not come out "true."

Can you see the black pepper?

Here is one of the cakes made in a ramekin with the leftover batter

My conclusions:  These were delicious and a hit with everyone who ate them.  But loving spices as I do, I can see that I would have added more Chai-type spices and grated fresh ginger, just to give a bit more punch to the flavor.


Victoria Challancin
Flavors of the Sun
San Miguel de Allende, México

1 comment:

Dimah said...

These sound and look awesome!
Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the kind comment!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! :)