Appropriately for the season, last Sunday’s baking effort was a pumpkin sheet cake, iced with a quick caramel buttercream made with a cup of dulce de leche. Although it’s readily available in specialty stores these days (unlike my childhood when it required a visit by relatives from the southern hemisphere), in the event that you can’t locate dulce de leche or its Mexican equivalent, cajeta, you could easily forego frosting the cake and simply dust it with powdered sugar instead.
With or without the frosting, the cake is moist, spicy and a snap to put together.
Pumpkin Spice Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 chai spice powder (see Notes)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sunflower seed or nut oil
1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 15 oz can solid-pack pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and line with parchment paper or nonstick foil a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and eggs in a large bowl until sugar is fully incorporated, with no lumps. Whisk in the oil and pumpkin purée and combine thoroughly. Add flour mixture and whisk just until smooth.
Pour batter into baking pan and bake in middle of oven until springy to the touch and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge and invert onto rack. Peel off paper and cool cake completely.
Spread top of cake with dulce de leche frosting (see below) and chill thoroughly to set before serving.
Dulce de Leche Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still firm
1 cup dulce de leche
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
Generous pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp half and half
Whip butter in standing mixer for 30 seconds to lighten, then add dulce de leche and sugar and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt, then add sufficient half and half to thin to a spreadable consistency.
The chai spice powder idea comes from the inventive Chockylit at Cupcake Bakeshop and has been great fun to use ever since I discovered it. If you don’t want to bother, the equivalent amount of pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, or extra cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves in proportion to your taste is easily substituted.