Let Them Eat Cake!

November 21, 2011


Found a recipe for pumpkin layer cake at MarthaStewart.com with a goat and cream cheese frosting, made it last night for family and it was a hit.  Pretty easy to make and the quince ( I used pears ) compote made by poaching the fruit in white wine and sugar was the perfect complement to the tang of the frosting a the mild sweetness of the cake. The cake was pretty straight forward and the frosting couldn’t be easier, so easy in fact I kept thinking I had messed it up some how, but it was great. In fact, even the compote was pretty easy to prepare.  After the heavy meal of turkey, stuffing and all the standard side dishes this cake was the perfect finish, not too sweet, not too heavy and all the flavors of the season… and a few new ones!

My only complaint would be that the layers didn’t hold together too well when it came to slicing and serving.  For me the way a recipe presents is as important as the way it tastes, and in the end it was pretty with the compote puddled on the plate, the slice of cake laying on its side and the fruit just so but it took a little finessing to get all 16 servings to look good.  Note: cut and plate this one in the kitchen not at the table!  Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Layer Cake

Prep: 20 minutes. Total: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Makes one 8-inch layer cake; Serves 12.


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans and parchment
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups solid-pack pumpkin (from one 14 1/2-ounce can)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush two 8-inch round cake pans with butter; line with circles of parchment, and brush with butter. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin; add vanilla and ginger. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with butter milk, and beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down side of bowl as needed. Divide batter between pans.

Bake cakes until golden brown, pulling away from sides of pans, and until a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pans set on wire racks for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks. Let cool.

Evenly spread half the goat cheese frosting on top of 1 cake. Top with the second cake, and frost top with the remaining frosting. Top cake with some quince-ginger compote, and serve remainder on the side.

Goat Cheese Frosting

Prep: 10 minutes. Total: 10 minutes
Makes 3 cups (enough for one 8-inch layer cake).


1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar


Beat cheeses until combined. Gradually add sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Quince-Ginger Compote

Prep: 20 minutes. Total: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Makes about 7 cups

Overly ripe quinces may not retain their shape as they simmer, so it’s best to use ones that have just ripened.


3 cups off-dry white wine, such as Riesling
1 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 thin slices peeled fresh ginger (from one 2-inch piece)
3 pounds just ripened quince (about 4), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (melissas.com)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Bring wine, water, sugar, and ginger to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add quinces. (Add more water if needed to cover fruit.) Reduce heat, and simmer gently until quinces are tender, 25 to 45 minutes depending on ripeness of fruit.

Transfer quinces to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Bring liquid in saucepan to a simmer, and cook until slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove, and discard ginger. Stir in lemon juice. Pour syrup over quinces. Let stand until cool. Refrigerate if desired.

This one is Martha’s

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