Okay, I have a problem. I’m slowly turning in to one of those people who want pumpkin EVERYTHING. This is new for me. As I mentioned before – I don’t really like pumpkin-y things. Somehow being in a state that actually demonstrates that Fall is a season has flipped a switch in me that wants all pumpkin, all the time. I’ve been scouring the internet for recipes, and will be stocking up on Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin for the rest of the year as I’ve convinced myself I will always want all pumpkin, all the time.
In my search I found a beautiful photo of this recipe over at Back to the Cutting Board. Let’s be honest – we eat with our eyes first. That’s why most of my cookbooks have bright, beautiful pictures. When recipes get too wordy and have nothing to show for it I lose interest quickly. Maybe that says more about me than I’d like.
Ironically, I have very few photos of my process for this chocolate-pumpkin marble cake but I tried to take the prettiest photos I could. Sometimes step-by-steps are good, and sometimes they’re boring and just take up space. I will also say that this recipe is fairly involved and slinging my camera around my new, smaller-than-I-thought-it-was kitchen as I prepared it was not high priority today. To be completely transparent – my new home is still a mess with boxes half unpacked from our move 2 1/2 weeks ago, and our fabulous kitchen table is in a constant state of clutter with things that need to find their new place. I now feel completely justified in not taking my usual heaping handfuls of photos for this recipe – incase you were wondering ;)
Chocolate-Pumpkin Marble Cake
1 1/4 c pumpkin puree
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 c cake flour – divided
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder – divided
1/2 tsp baking soda – divided
1 tsp salt – divided
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 c buttermilk – divided
Cream Cheese Glaze
1/2 c powdered sugar
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
3-4 Tbsp milk (or more if you want a thinner glaze)
Let’s start with the cake. You’ve probably noticed that there are a significant number of ingredients that are divided. This is because you’re essentially making 2 cake batters that you’ll swirl together just before baking. It seems more complicated than it actually is – so just trust that I won’t lead you astray.
Also, just a few notes before we begin – if you don’t have cake flour you can use all purpose, but this may come out quite a bit denser. There’s a simple trick for substituting AP flour + cornstarch for cake flour over here at the Joy the Baker. Simply substitute 2 Tbsp of every cup of flour called for with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch – and sift the dickens out of it!! Cake flour is used because it really keeps things light, so when you think you’ve sifted enough, you haven’t. I usually sift to a timer (about 5 minutes).
Buttermilk is another ingredient that you may not always have in your fridge. There are a couple of ways to make this substitution – you can either use lemon juice or white vinegar. The ratio of substitution is about 1 Tbsp of either of those ingredients for every cup of milk you’ll be using to make buttermilk. When doing this I like to put the vinegar or lemon juice (whatever I have on hand) in the measuring cup first, and pouring the milk right over the top of it until I have the measured amount I need. Let this sit for at least 5 minutes, and tah-dah – buttermilk compatible!
Alas, I’ve digressed long enough – on to the recipe!
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and prepping either a bundt or tube pan with butter or cooking spray. You can also dust the pan with 1 Tbsp of flour and shake out any excess. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl cream butter until light and fluffy. Add your sugars and mix on medium for about 5 minutes until everything is mixed thoroughly. Add your eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until completely incorporated. Add in the vanilla.
Transfer half of the butter-sugar mixture into another larger bowl, and set aside. There is probably a more precise way to do this, but I just eyeballed it.
In one of your bowls, add the pumpkin puree in and mix well.
In a separate, smaller bowl combine 1 3/4 c cake flour, pumpkin pie spice 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add half of this flour mixture to the pumpkin batter and mix well. Mix in 1/3 cup of buttermilk before adding the rest of the flour mixture. You should end up with a relatively thick pumpkin batter. Set it aside and let’s make the chocolate batter.
Back in that smaller bowl combine 1 c cake flour, 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. You’re going to follow the same process as before, adding half the chocolate flour mixture to the sugar/butter and mixing, but this time you’ll mix in 1 c of buttermilk before combining the rest of the dry ingredients into your batter. Once this is all mixed up you should have a nice, thick chocolate batter – and now the fun begins :)
Spoon about 1/3 of your pumpkin batter into the bottom of your prepared pan. You don’t have to be too precise because you’re going to want the marbled look when you’re finished. Imperfection is okay. Next drop spoonfuls of your chocolate batter around the pan. Keep alternating pumpkin and chocolate batters until everything is used up. Use a knife to gently swirl the batters together, but don’t over do it – we want to see the marbling when we’re done.
Bake everything for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer (or really long toothpick) inserted in the middle comes out clean. Mine took closer to 55 minutes. Just make sure when you’re poking your cake you’re going through layers of chocolate and pumpkin – the chocolate tends to take a little longer so you’ll want to be sure it’s all thoroughly baked.
While all this cooling is going on mix up your cream cheese glaze.
Mix the powdered sugar & cream cheese together until well blended. You could pull our your mixer again, but my cream cheese was really soft so I just used a whisk. Stir in the vanilla, and then add the milk 1 Tbsp at a time, until you’ve reached your desired consistency (I probably used closer to 4 Tbsp).
Confession time – I didn’t plan ahead and I had no milk. While this was baking I had to eat lunch – pregnancy makes me ravenously hungry about 90% of the time. I had a small amount of milk left in the carton before lunch, but completely forgot that I would need it for the glaze and drank all of it to accompany my PB&J. Oops. It was silly, but it happens – and I’m going to blame it on the baby for now. He’s not here to defend himself, or point out that I do that kind of stuff all the time. Alas, I used buttermilk. I was concerned that it would make the glaze more sour that I wanted, but it was actually a really nice compliment to the cream cheese. So if you went out and bought a carton of buttermilk for this recipe feel free to use some of the rest of it here.
Once your glaze is all mixed and smooth, pour it over the still warm cake. It will spread easier, and give you that drippy look. I do this over a piece of wax paper while the cake is still on the cooling rack. Makes clean up much easier later.
Okay – so despite my griping before about wordy recipes with too few photos this is probably one of my longest post with far too few photos. I hope you can forgive me and still enjoy this amazing cake – you won’t regret all the reading you just did.