Based on a recipe from Like Mother, Like Daughter
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I was trying to think of what I wanted to bake. I wasn’t sure I wanted the usual pumpkin pie, but I still wanted that fall spice flavor. I recently watched an episode of Holiday Baking Championship and they had to celebrate fall flavor combinations and my first thought was what better combination is there than cranberries and ginger? I have often added candied ginger to my homemade cranberry sauce, so my first instinct was to make a cheesecake with a cranberry ginger compote, but I would miss the pumpkin. On another baking competition, one of the contestants added cranberries to ginger bread. While this is a good idea, it just felt a little too Christmas-y, until I realized that all the spices that are in ginger bread are also in a pumpkin pie!
Surprisingly in all the cookbooks I own, not one had a recipe for pumpkin bread, cake or muffins, only pumpkin pie or soup. I did a quick Google search for pumpkin cake and found “Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting” on the website Like Mother, Like Daughter. I liked the idea of Cream Cheese frosting for this cake, because the spices of a carrot cake are very similar to those in a pumpkin pie. I have also made Pumpkin Cheesecake pies, so the frosting is a perfect pairing.
As with all pumpkin pies, I always feel that the amount of spice is never enough. I always use at least one and a half times the amount, but because a cake is less concentrated than a pie, I doubled the spices. For the cranberries, you can use fresh, frozen or dried. If you use frozen, you don’t need to thaw them before you fold them into the batter. They will thaw as they cook. If you choose to use dried cranberries, you can soak them overnight in a couple of tablespoons of brandy, or your choice of liquor, to rehydrate them. Once they are rehydrated, you should drain them before adding the chopped candied ginger and tossing them in the reserved flour mixture. You can add the brandy to either the cake or use this as the brandy in the frosting too.
I tend to make cupcakes rather than a layer cake or a sheet cake, because the serving size is easily controlled. Cupcakes are also preferable when you are attending a party or bringing it to work, but storing cupcakes can be difficult when you have limited storage in your refrigerator. Since this recipe yields 24 – 36 cupcakes, this time I opted for the 9 x 13 inch Pyrex baking dish. Once the cake is baked and cooled, you can turn it out to frost if you prefer or just serve and store it in the dish.
Cream Cheese Frosting can sometimes be quite sweet. On average 1-1/2 cups or more of confectioners sugar is used per 8 ounces of cream cheese. I usually start with a third of the sugar and add it slowly until I achieve the sweetness level I like. In addition to the vanilla extract, I also added a hint of nutmeg and brandy which also tones down the sweetness. If you have mascarpone cheese on hand instead of cream cheese, you can use the frosting recipe for the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte Cupcakes instead.
If you are feeling artistic, you can use one of your decorative tips and pipe on the frosting. You can also reserve any of the additional frosting to serve on the side if anyone wants more frosting with their cake. I hope you enjoy this holiday treat!
Cranberry Ginger Pumpkin Cake with Brandy Cream Cheese Frosting
Credit: Like Mother, Like Daughter
For the Cake:
- 1 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1- 15 oz can pumpkin puree
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
For the Frosting:
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
- 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 – 3 tablespoons brandy (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Grease 9 x 13 Pyrex dish.
- Sift together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside 1/4 cup of this mixture.
- In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, oil, and sugar. Add eggs and whisk again until completely mixed.
- Rinse cranberries and pat dry.
- Chop candied ginger into small pieces, about the size of a chocolate chip. Add to cranberries.
- Add reserved dry ingredients to cranberry mixture and set aside.
- Whisk flour and spice mixture into pumpkin puree until just combined.
- Fold the cranberries and ginger into the batter. Do not over mix.
- Add batter baking dish and smooth out until level.
- Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cake cool completely before frosting.
- For the frosting, whip together the softened cream cheese and butter.
- Add the vanilla extract.
- Add sifted confectioners sugar a little at a time, mixing until smooth.
- Add 1 -3 tablespoons of brandy, to taste, and mix until incorporated. At this point, if the frosting is too thin or you prefer it to be sweeter, add up to 1 more cup of sifted sugar.
- Replace fresh cranberries with dried cranberries that have been rehydrated in brandy.
- Add walnuts or pecans to the recipe.
- Replace the brandy with bourbon or ginger liqueur.