It’s been a long, strange summer here in Oregon. Since the move, we’ve been greeted by one of the driest periods of time I’ve ever spent in this state. It’s only rained a handful of times and, without central AC and a master bedroom in the attic, it was pretty unpleasant. The winds are shifting now, though, and the rain is starting to come down. Hard. And I love it. That feeling of fall where everything smells crisp and fresh and clean, and that reassuring sound of rain beating against the roof, knowing that you’re inside, safe and warm and dry. To celebrate the first real ‘fall’ night in our new home, I made a simple pumpkin sheet cake and topped it with a little maple glaze and some toasted local hazelnuts. It made the whole place smell ridiculously good and the flavor…this is definitely something special.
Moist and dense, full of spices and that rich pumpkin flavoring, the maple glaze compliments it perfectly and the toasted hazelnuts add just the right amount of saltiness and contrasting texture to really kick the whole thing up a notch. I also got to test out these gorgeous hand-carved wooden spoons from the talented Annie Beedy. I met Annie at the Portland craft fair this summer, where I hovered around her table for an inordinate amount of time, just staring longingly at all of the beautiful wood works in front of me and watching her whittle away at the beginnings of a spoon. We connected later (where I promptly fell in love with her dog) and talked about wood carving and how she decides what to make with each piece. She lets the grain and flow of the wood determine the purpose it will serve, and just starts carving away, little by little, until she’s left with pieces as strikingly beautiful as this one (I know guys, I know.) Lucky for us, she was kind enough to offer up one of her beautiful hand-carved large walnut spoons for a giveaway! It’s the larger spoon towards the top left in the above photograph, and it is marvelous. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget below, the entry period ends at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time on October 27th. Good luck, everyone, and happy fall!
Pumpkin Sheet Cake With Maple Glaze & Toasted Hazelnuts
Pumpkin Sheet Cake
- 3 cups flour
- 1 and 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup unsalted Challenge butter softened
- 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 and 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
- 2/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt
- parchment paper
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon milk
- First, prepare the cake. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger until blended. Set aside.
- Cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the olive oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin and mix until completely incorporated.
- Mixing at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, about 1 cup at a time, until it is just incorporated. Pour the batter into a roughly 8 x 13 inch lightly greased rectangular baking pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
- Next, prepare the toasted hazelnuts. Melt the butter and sugar in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring to incorporate the sugar. Once the sugar has melted, add the nuts and stir to coat them in the mixture. Let them sit in the pan for a couple minutes until they start smelling slightly toasty, then stir it up again. Repeat this process until most of the nuts are lightly browned and toasted on part of their surface and the pan is very aromatic with the smell of toasted hazelnuts. Remove the pan from the heat and empty the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Smooth it out so the nuts are in one layer, then sprinkle the salt over the nuts. Place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes to get the nuts hard and crunchy, then remove them from the parchment paper and break the sheet of nuts apart with your hands. Set it aside.
- To prepare the glaze, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled sheet cake and top with the toasted hazelnuts. Serve immediately.