As a semi-experienced home baker (I’m using that phrase lightly), I’m always looking to make recipes that I (and everyone else around me) would like to eat. I think a lot of times, people get so caught up in recipes that look cool but may not produce the tastiest of results. You won’t find me making dragon’s beard candy, raindrop cakes, or anything rainbow (which in reality just tastes like food coloring) because those aren’t the flavors that I enjoy. If you’re going to go through the trouble of baking something yourself, make sure it’s something you like to eat. I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Cake Bars with a Maple Cream Cheese Frosting from King Arthur Flour that sounded so good. I swear I’m not a dessert snob, so an easy sheet cake slathered in frosting isn’t too simple for me. Down home cakes like this remind me of my childhood, being the grandson of an amazing baker, and so I got the ingredients together in hopes of a slice of nostalgia.
The first thing to know about this recipe is that KAF gives you options for the cake size. I went with the 13×9 version which was still plenty of cake for the three of us. The cake starts off by beating the oil and sugars together, after which the eggs and pumpkin puree are added. Next come the leavening, salt and spices before the flour can be beaten in gently. I said this in the earlier Pumpkin Bread Pudding post, but don’t skip the ginger or cloves as they really elevate any pumpkin dessert from bland to flavorful. The batter is then poured into a prepared pan and baked for about 25 minutes. It honestly couldn’t have been any simpler. The frosting comes together quickly as well. It’s made by beating cream cheese and butter together until smooth. After which, maple syrup and powdered sugar are added in and beaten until smooth. The frosting gets slathered onto the cooled cake and topped with toasted chopped walnuts which add some great flavor and texture.
One bite of this was like a flavor bomb of nostalgia. There’s just something comforting about pumpkin desserts that are so wonderful to eat. The cake itself has great flavor and warmth, while the cream cheese adds a slight bit of tang with enough powdered sugar to make sure you know you’re eating a dessert. Really, I could have cut the sugar as it was a bit sweet for my taste, but I wanted to follow it exactly as the recipe stated. Since this is pretty rustic, a looser, less sweet frosting would have still been great. The only real issue was that the cake took longer to bake- around ten extra minutes. It was really that center that refused to fully cook in the middle, but eventually we got there. The cake reminded me of a traditional pumpkin roll cake without all of the fuss of having to roll it up yourself and worry about cracks. This cake was as easy as they come, so I do hope you try it out and get your own slice of nostalgia.
Full Recipe | Method from King Arthur Flour: