The Great Pumpkin Cake

In a pumpkin patch most sincere, on Halloween night, there was more to see than just the usual vines and gourds, slumbering under the cover of darkness. Rising from the earth like a giant glowing orb, brighter and larger than a full moon, it was none other than the Great Pumpkin, here to reward all the good little children at long last!

However, I have a feeling that this may have been a different Great Pumpkin than the original orange squash, because his reward was not in the form of toys or trinkets as fabled, but in the form of cake.

Yes, the Great Pumpkin is in fact made of cake… And practically effortless to assemble, too. Little more than chocolate chip pumpkin cake baked in an oven-safe metal bowl (greased well!) and slathered with pumpkin frosting, it’s easy enough to throw together for any last-minute Halloween event. Just bear in mind that the cake will rise when filling your bowl with batter, so fill it about 1/2 way full to prevent spill-over, and it wouldn’t hurt to park a baking sheet beneath it just in case. While baking the cake, just be sure to keep a close eye on the oven, since it will take much longer to bake in such an unusual and relatively dense form. Times will vary depending on the size of your bowl.

Applying the frosting is a very fast process, since you don’t actually want the coating to be entirely smooth. Leave vertical lines to mimic the striations of a real pumpkin, and you’ll save yourself a headache and create a more “realistic” Great Pumpkin. For the features, simply roll out a small portion of modeling chocolate very thin, and use a knife to carve out the eyes and mouth you want. Roll out a small log for the stem, and taper it out at the top, curving it slightly just so it doesn’t stick straight up. Gently press the chocolate eyes, mouth, and stem into the frosted cake as desired. Voila! Now the Great Pumpkin isn’t such an elusive character after all.

As for that glowing orange frosting, you could use any flavor you desire and color it accordingly with a drop of beet juice and a pinch of turmeric, but wanting to match the theme more closely, I went with an all-pumpkin frosting instead.

Pumpkin Frosting

3/4 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
1 Cup Solid-Pack Pumpkin Puree (Canned; not homemade due to the water content)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Pinch Nutmeg
Pinch Salt
1 Package Vegan Butterscotch Pudding Mix
3 1/2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
1/4 – 3/4 Cup Soy or Rice Milk Powder

Place the margarine in your stand mixer first, and beat briefly with the whisk attachment until creamy. Add in the pumpkin, and whip the two together until mostly smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is becoming incorporated. Add in the spices, salt, pudding mix, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the “milk” powder. Start the mixer on the lowest speed to prevent the dry goods from flying out of the bowl, and once the sugar is mostly mixed in, turn up the speed to high.

Continue to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, and whip the frosting for a solid 4 minutes. If it seems too loose and/or somewhat grainy/separated, add in another 1/4 cup of “milk” powder. Beat for another 3 minutes, assess the texture, and repeat if needed. Once smooth and stiff enough to spread, apply to your completely cooled cake as desired. Happy Halloween!

Printable Recipe