Even though it’s still November, our tree has been trimmed and the Christmas carols are playing full blast round the clock at our home. It feels a little bit funny to me. We put the tree up early this year. Usually I wait until December first. Ridiculous though it may sound, and even though I adore the holiday season, I worry abut overdoing it and getting sick of Christmas before it even arrives.
Since it is still November, but we are barreling full steam ahead into the Christmas season, I made a cake to celebrate both.
The cake itself is all autumn, with super soft pumpkin butter cake layers stacked one by one. The frosting? Screams December. Egg Nog German Buttercream is an incredible smooth and creamy frosting that is made sans powdered sugar so it doesn’t have that cloyingly sweet bite that I am not such a fan of. It tastes exactly like egg nog, thanks to the way German Buttercream is made. Nutmeg-spiced custard is cooled and beaten little by little into softened butter. It’s super smooth and unbelievably creamy.
The pumpkin seed brittle on top of the cake may look intimidating, but it’s quick and easy to make. The secret to success? Pouring the hot seeded caramel on to a non-stick mat and then draping it over a glass(or other cylindrical object) to cool. The arc shape helps it to stand up on top of the cake without falling(pressing into the top cake layer, of course).
If you’re like me and are sort of in a holiday “in-between” state, this is the cake for you. Plus, it’s gluten free. Can’t beat that.
- FOR THE CAKE:
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) Butter, softened
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Raw Cane Sugar
- Seeds scraped from 1 Vanilla Bean
- 3 Large Eggs
- ¾ cup Buttermilk
- 1 cup Pumpkin or Squash Puree
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Sweet Rice Flour
- ¾ cup Oat Flour
- ½ cup Millet Flour
- 2¼ teaspoons Baking Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- FOR THE EGG NOG GERMAN BUTTERCREAM:
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons Whole Milk
- ½ cup Raw Cane Sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 3 Large Egg Yolks
- 2 teaspoons Arrowroot Starch (or cornstarch)
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- Cinnamon, to garnish cake
- FOR THE PUMPKIN BRITTLE:
- ½ cup Maple Syrup
- ⅓ cup Pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- FOR THE CAKE:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottoms of four 6" round baking pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour.
- Place the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds in a large mixing bowl. Beat together on high for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, one at a time, fully incorporating before adding the next egg.
- Beat in the buttermilk and pumpkin puree.
- In another bowl, sift together the rice flour, oat flour, and millet flour. Whisk in the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together until smooth and well combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, dropping each pan on the counter once or twice to remove air bubbles from batter.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from the pans. Finish cooling on a wire rack.
- FOR THE EGG NOG GERMAN BUTTERCREAM:
- Place the milk, sugar, and nutmeg in a saucepan. Whisk to dissolve sugar while heating on medium/high heat. When milk begins to steam, remove from heat.
- Whisk together the egg yolks and arrowroot starch together in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly, until combined. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Heat on medium, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes, or until mixture thickens.
- Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla. Press a layer of plastic wrap on top of the custard(this will keep a crust from forming) and refrigerate until completely cooled.
- Once the custard has cooled, place the soft butter in a large bowl. Beat butter until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. While beating, add the custard to the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating in fully with each addition before adding more. Scrape the sides of the bowl down several times during this process.
- Once the custard has been added, beat frosting for one more minute. Frosting should be smooth, thick, and creamy.
- Use the frosting to frost the cake, with ⅓- 1/2" thick layers of frosting between each cake layer.
- Speckle the sides of the cake with ground cinnamon. Dust the top of the cake with cinnamon.
- FOR THE BRITTLE:
- Lay a sheet of parchment or a non-stick mat out on your work surface.
- Place the maple syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium/high heat. Continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the syrup turns a darker amber color and gives of a caramel-like scent. Add the pepitas to the caramel and stir until all seeds are coated. Pour the seeded caramel out on top of the non-stick mat. Working quickly, spread the caramel out using a rubber spatula so that it is in one layer (seeds are not sitting on top of each other).
- Place a glass or other cylindrical item underneath the non-stick mat so that the brittle hardens in an 'arc' shape.
- Once the brittle has cooed and hardened, place it on top of the cake, pressing it down into the top cake layer to help it stay standing.
- Cake is best eaten at room temperature.
- Store in the refrigerator.