It was a good night last night. We ordered Chinese take-out, Katie and Jeff carved pumpkins, and I baked a spicy cake. Then we watched our very first movie from Netflix. All in all, for a Wednesday night, we had a good time.
These were no ordinary pumpkins like the ones we carved when I was a kid. No, these pumpkins were elaborate, carved from templates and more like artwork than jack-o-lanterns. But jack-o-lanterns they were when lit with real candles and perched under a clouded night sky on the front porch. Katie carved “Jack” from The Nightmare Before Christmas” and Jeff carved a frightening scarecrow silhouetted by the moon. Henry’s pumpkin will be carved when his dad is home this weekend, and it will be something simple like Casper the Ghost, or the standard triangle eyes and nose and jagged mouth. This time of year has always been enjoyable for my family, and I see that the tradition will continue as Henry experiences his second Halloween.
A Halloween birthday is special. My mother-in-law Marylou shares her birthday with this ghoulish holiday, as does our friend, baby Julia. I’m making a special first-birthday cake for little Julia this weekend, and I searched the Internet for a good recipe. Julia’s mom Rebekah grew up in the same neighborhood as my kids, and I am very fond of her. Rebekah and her husband asked me to bake Julia’s first birthday cake (an honor!) and requested something seasonal. Online, I found a number of versions of this recipe for Applesauce Spice Pound Cake and decided to go with it. It’s simple, with a yellow cake mix as its base, but fancified with applesauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. The batter was so pretty and as it baked the warmth of the spices filled the air. It came out beautifully and I can’t wait to bake this again for my own family. It would be great with a cream cheese, butter cream, or browned butter frosting.
This all mixes up in one bowl and you can have it in the oven in ten minutes. I baked layers but the original recipe calls for a bundt or tube pan. Eight-inch layers took about 35 minutes until they tested done. A bundt or tube pan will take about 50 minutes.
Applesauce Spice Pound Cake
- 1 yellow cake mix
- 1 box vanilla instant pudding
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup applesauce
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts; ½ cup raisins (I left these out for a baby’s birthday cake).
In large mixing bowl, stir together cake mix, pudding mix, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
Add applesauce, eggs, and vegetable oil to dry mixture. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Stir in nuts and raisins if using. Pour into prepared pans (greased and floured for bundt, greased and lined with parchment or wax paper for layers).
Bake in 350 degree F oven until cake tests done (about 35 minutes for layers or 50 minutes for bundt – test for doneness: toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; middle of cake bounces back when pressed lightly and cake begins to shrink from edge of pan.)
Cool in pans for half an hour. Remove from pans and continue cooling on wire rack. Frost with a complimentary frosting like cream cheese, buttercream, or browned butter.
Photo credit: http://www.measuredwithspoons.net/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/jack_pumpkin_dark.JPG