Once a month a group of children's literature fans and I get together around a book written for kids.
This talking together is great fun but what we really look forward to is gathering around the table afterwards to eat something delicious and continue our talk about the book or whatever else comes up. We usually end up laughing a lot, which is just so fun.
In our discussion last night, we recalled a scene in Eleanor and Park when the family sat down to eat a special Christmas meal. Their abusive step-dad (Richie) had given the mom enough money to buy ingredients to make a traditional Christmas dinner. In this dysfunctional family, Richie's anger ruled everybody with a terrifying control. After they were done eating Richie realized that there was no pumpkin pie and he went berserk, not understanding how she could forget to buy pumpkin to make a pie. Screaming and swearing, he threw the dessert she did make across the room. This was just one of many stressful moments in this heartbreaking young adult novel.
So in spite of this awful character, I made something with the pumpkin I didn't forget to buy:
Three Layer Pumpkin Cake
3 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened) 2 cups sugar, 3 large eggs, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, 1 (15 oz) canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup milk
12 oz. (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese(softened) 3/4 cup unsalted butter(softened) 3 Tblsp pure maple syrup, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp cinnamon and 6 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease 3, 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.
Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and immediately place in the freezer for 45 minutes. (This keeps the cake moist by immediately stopping the baking so the cake does not continue to bake when you remove it from the oven.)
For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Add confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.
Assemble the 3 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between each layer. Then apply a thin crumb coat on the top and sides. Pop back in the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes.
Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
This is a delicious dessert and we have mostly reserved it as our Rachel's September birthday cake, because she loves anything pumpkin.
I hope you get a chance to bake one sometime.