Ava's Pumpkin Cake with Homemade Cream Cheese Icing
This recipe is one of the most special recipes that I own. It belonged to my husband’s maternal Grandmother, Ava Wilson. She was an amazing woman and I had the privilege to know and love her for several years before we lost her suddenly to a stroke. Every year in November, she would make a very special pumpkin cake for my husband for his birthday. I think she had perfected the recipe over the years. One year (5 years ago), we weren’t able to make it to Tennessee to celebrate his birthday. So I called her to get her famous recipe and try to make the cake myself. I will never forget that phone call, I still laugh when I think about it. Her measurements were very general – “a little of this,” “maybe a cup of that or more if you need it.” She was so happy that I had called to get the recipe and asked me if she could pass me the torch so that I could continue the tradition of making him a pumpkin cake for his birthday. Of course I happily accepted and I have been making it every year since. I hope we can keep this special recipe in our family for generations to come.
I will warn you – it is a bit labor intensive but it is absolutely well worth the time and energy you put into it. Fresh pumpkin works best but you can substitute canned pumpkin if you must. Every year I send my sweet husband to work with his pumpkin cake to share with his co-workers. They cut the first piece around 8:30 and by 10:30 there is none left. It is very moist and delectable with hints of fall spices. Top it off with the cream cheese icing and it is pure heaven.
MOM’s Pumpkin Cake Recipe
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree or cooked mashed pumpkinDirections:
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour two 9 inch rounds (or a 9 x 13 pan).
Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and vegetable oil. Using a mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined. With your mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and beat well. Stir in the pumpkin (if using fresh cooked pumpkin, make sure you have gotten most of the moisture out with a cheese cloth or strainer).
Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s). Bake it on the center rack of your oven for about 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Let cakes cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before removing them from the pan. They need to cool an additional hour before you frost them if at all possible.
Place one layer on the cake plate and apply a liberal amount of cream cheese frosting. Trim the top of the second cake if needed so that it will lay evenly on top of the first layer. Gently place the second cake onto the first layer and frost the entire cake liberally with remaining cream cheese icing (there may be some leftover frosting, you want to use enough to cover the cake and any gaps). Cream Cheese Icing:
1 stick of real, unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz each), softened
2 pounds of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Using a mixer, blend the butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Slowly add all of the powdered sugar until the frosting is a nice, spreadable consistency. You can store the leftover in the fridge – it is yummy with fresh strawberries.
**If you are frosting a 9x13 cake, you can halve the cream cheese recipe.