Monday, November 21, 2011
Pumpkin Cake Squares
And it feels amazing. I've missed this so much.
The second of this semester's three shows ran this past weekend, and what an experience that was. After what seemed like the world's longest rehearsal process, we finally opened a world-premiere musical revue of David Shire's music to a packed house and enthusiastic praise. Furthermore, David Shire and his wife Didi Conn, also known as Frenchie in the film version of Grease, came all the way from New York City to see the premiere! Performing for and meeting them was unforgettable, especially seeing how touched David was to see what our directors did with his music. The looks on their faces made the insanity of the last two and a half months worth it :)
And Didi is officially the cutest person alive. Seriously.
If you feel so inclined, you can read more about the whole experience in Playbill. And look at my picture. Sorry, I'll stop now.
The hardest day of tech week is always Sunday: the "10-out-of-12". As actors, we spend 10 hours of a 12-hour block working onstage. I'd worked them as a technician before, and they're always rough. So, since we had the previous day off from rehearsal (or at least from the musical - I was rehearsing for another show that morning), I decided to bake something for the cast to make the long day a little easier.
Let's just say they were grateful.
The cake squares are personal servings of fall flavor. The cool, creamy, vanilla mascarpone frosting adds the perfect sweet contrast to the moist and spicy pumpkin cake. If you don't keep mascarpone on hand like I do (yes, I'm crazy) then go ahead and substitute cream cheese, but I think the mascarpone is beyond worth it. It's a fantastic fall snack, or it could be a great last-minute addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table - it only takes 15 minutes to get it into the oven! I guarantee any friend or relative would be grateful to help you eat it.
Pumpkin Cake Squares with Mascarpone Frosting
Source: adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from How To: Simplify
Yield: 1 9x13" pan
For the pumpkin cake squares:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 15oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large, but I used the stuff from a carton!)
Preheat the oven to 350˚F with a rack on the middle position. Grease a 9x13" pan and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs, and egg whites until smooth and uniform. Pour the dry ingredients on top of the pumpkin mixture and gently stir or whisk to combine until smooth.
Transfer the batter to the greased pan and smooth the top, making sure the batter is distributed evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before frosting.
For the Vanilla Mascarpone frosting:
8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I recommend Nielsen Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla)
approximately 1 tbsp half-and-half (I used fat free)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and mascarpone on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and the half-and-half. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and whip until desired consistency is reached, adding more half-and-half one teaspoon at a time if necessary. Spread evenly onto the cooled cake. Slice into squares and enjoy!