Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Pumpkin Kind of Day!

It seems this day was devoted to all things pumpkin.  I took a dessert to Stitch 'n Bitch, a variation of pumpkin bars that I call a pumpkin torte. After stitching and gabbing for a while I came home and baked mini loaves of pumpkin bread, mostly to give to neighbors and friends. Later in the afternoon I took granddaughter #3 to a friend's farm where they have over 1/4 acre planted in all kinds of pumpkins. We brought quite a few home!
Long before there were blogs, message boards were popular.  I found myself at the Food Network message boards many a night.  When Food Network closed the boards down some of us gravitated to our own board. We are still together and, though small in members, the recipes, hints, general advice and friendship has been an amazing experience. I've even had the opportunity to meet up with fellow members from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Arizona, as well as California. One of the favorite recipes on our board originated from the Food Network days and is named after the original poster.  These pumpkin bars are more like a cake, than a traditional firmer bar.  No matter where I take them, how many times I make them, people rave about them.  They are that good. 
Today I decided to tweak the presentation a little bit and assembled the cake into a torte-style cake.  To do so, I made the bar recipe per the instructions.  I lined the pan with parchment paper, letting it overhang the pan so the cake could easily be lifted out.  I then trimmed the edges and cut the cake into three equal sections, then layered the cake sections with the cream cheese frosting (I doubled the frosting recipe for this). I tinted a little of the frosting and, using pumpkin candies, decorated the top like a pumpkin patch. It made a very festive dessert.
I had a small strip of cake leftover so cut them into the traditional bar shape and gave to my hubby.  They were gone in a heart beat!

Chefbeck's Killer Pumpkin Bars

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature

2 cups canned pumpkin (one 15-oz. can)
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 15 X 10 1/2 X 1 pan.

Sift flour, baking soda, spices, and salt together; set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Spread mixture into pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until cake springs back when touched or toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.

3 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1 stick butter, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)**
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat together until smooth.

** The orange zest is really a nice flavor with these bars and tends to lessen the sweetness of the frosting. Orange oil can be substituted for the orange zest (I used 1/4 teaspoon).
The recipe for the pumpkin bread also comes from the food board and is attributed to Patricia.  She says this is her variation of the pumpkin bread recipe shown on the Libby's pumpkin can. It's an easy, moist and delicious bread and fantastic with a latte in the morning!

I've had these little ceramic loaf pans for over 5 years now.  Every year I say I'm going to  use them and every year they sit.  This year I finally used them! Now I think I need to buy more as they make such a cute gift!
Pumpkin Pecan Bread

Makes two 8x4 inch loaves

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 cup pecans

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 eggs
1 can Libby’s solid-pack pumpkin

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, and pecans; set aside. In large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugars until light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients; mix just until moistened. Turn into 2 greased and floured 8x4 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350° F for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.

Mini loaf pans :
7 small ceramic pans, 3x5x2 inch, about 35 to 45 minutes (on half-sheet pan)

With two freshly-baked pumpkin breads in hand, granddaughter #3 and I drove out to my friend's farm.  They farm mostly walnuts and almonds but have carved out a 1/4 acre area where they grow pumpkins each year.  This year they grew 17 different varieties!  They had a pumpkin patch party last weekend and we were unable to attend.  Bernice graciously invited me to come out and gather some pumpkins.  At first, my city-slicker granddaughter wasn't too sure about traipsing through a dusty patch of pumpkins and she got a few splinters from the pumpkin stems.  But she ended up having a great time and got to pick a few special pumpkins. She was a tired, dusty mess when done and fell asleep on the way home. She got an early bath and then spent the rest of the night talking about going to the pumpkin patch. We can't wait until next year's party!


  1. Love the pumpkin torte and the pumpkins, but your granddaughter steals the show. How beautiful and precious is she. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  2. What a great day with Avery! And I am so glad your pumpkin breads turned out well!
    I just made my first batch of pumpkin bars for this season...there will be lots of happy faces after dinner!