Monday, March 2, 2009

Big Red Kitchen's Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cake and Three Ingredient Glaze

... except I used three ingredients in the cake, and a few extra ingredients in the glaze. Oh, and no pumpkin. I couldn't help myself.

I've long admired the concept of "Cooking the Books: A Cook Through Blog Roll" which seeks those committed enough to cook their way through an entire cookbook. I've long wanted to do this, and I even challenged myself with a vintage cookbook by Margaret Rudkin, and yet here I am, reading other blogs, and cooking from those blogs or from Tastespotting and from random Google searches.

Robin Sue of Big Red Kitchen has taken that Cooking the Books concept and is "Cooking the Blogs" -- an equally good idea, and a plan I recognized I was more likely to adopt. So, it seemed fitting I start with a recipe from Robin Sue's blog, and since one of her most popular recipes (see her sidebar) happens to fit in with my current plan of cleaning out my pantry and not doing any grocery shopping this month (I allow myself to buy only dairy, veggies, and fruit when I'm in "Use It Up Mode), it suited me perfectly.

In Robin Sue's recipe, she uses one cake mix and one can of pumpkin, mixed and baked, and nothing more, for the cake, and then a simple 3 ingredient apple cider glaze. I adapted it only slightly, and had amazing results. Not because of my adaptations I assure you -- the recipe is fine in its original form. I just was very skeptical I'd like the end product.
You see, I've had the "Diet Soda Cake" where you are guaranteed a lower fat, lower sugar cake if you just combine one can of diet soda pop and one cake mix. It was, in a word, ATROCIOUS. Heavy, wet, gummy, metallic. I still shudder.
Here I was, though, with a cake mix and a box of frozen butternut squash puree, and a raining-so-hard-it's hailing-Sunday afternoon.

I decided I was going to make a cake and watch DVR reruns of The Office. I did exactly that.

Butternut squash is often interchangeable with pumpkin puree (indeed, many commercial pumpkin pies are actually butternut squash, I'm told), so I defrosted a brick of it, and added it to a Duncan Hines French Vanilla Cake Mix, and combined thoroughly. I noted others remarked on the batter being the consistency of brownie batter, and I was not trusting enough to leave it alone. I don't like heavy, gummy cake, and since I had out the jar of apple juice (for the glaze) anywayyyyyyyyyyyy, why not? I added 1/4 cup of apple juice to the pumpkin-cake mix, and beat it until it was smooth. I poured it into a greased and floured rectangular cake pan and baked it for 30 minutes.

I was still not trusting, as I made the glaze. For the glaze, I combined 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of apple juice, and a scant few shakes of Pumpkin Pie spice, and beat it thoroughly. To me, most powdered sugar glazes taste like raw powdered sugar and I always strive to avoid that. I didn't care for the sugary taste, but liked the flavor overall, so I tarted it up by adding a splash of lemon juice. That helped considerably, but it was still too powdery-sugary tasting. I added 1/4 teaspoon of corn starch, and quickly brought the glaze to a bubble in a sauce pan, and immediately took it off the stove to cool. That did it. It took away the "raw taste" and turned the glaze into a thick, glossy glaze with the consistency of honey.

The cake was now cool, and I cut into it. It was not gummy or wet, as Robin Sue promised. It was actually so light, so fluffy, it was almost TOO tender. If I could describe it as anything it would be "a cake of soft baby powder and fog." It was powdery soft, and absolutely wonderful. The flavor was like a mild pumpkin pie in cake form, and with a drizzle of the glaze, it was quite tasty. A sure fire easy cake for a pot luck or unexpected guests for breakfast, and, bonus -- it's lower fat than had you made the cake or the pie in the traditional manner, and, the pumpkin and squash are super foods, which officially makes this HEALTH FOOD.

Two thumbs up, Robin Sue!


1 cake mix of your choice
1 regular can of pureed pumpkin or butternut squash

Mix thoroughly. Add apple juice to thin, if desired. Pour into buttered, floured, rectangle cake pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.


1 cup of powdered sugar
2 T of apple juice
1 shake of pumpkin pie spice
1 splash of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon corn starch

Mix thoroughly, heat to a bubble, remove from heat, stir, and let cool. Drizzle on your cake. 


  1. Glad you liked the cake. I like your cooking of the glaze. I too have wondered how to get the "powdery" texture out of the icing and now I know! I have just seen in TJ that they have canned butternut squash puree, so that will be handy for sure. The cake is a nice texture and I think very nice in the kids lunch box, not so dense and messy like other cakes. Easier for their little hands. Thanks for the shout out!

    I am so behind in reading your blog, I did not feel well last week but I am having fun catching up now!

  2. I love RobinSue's cooking the blogs, too. Great idea!

    This is the recipe I have had bookmarked since fall, with the cake mix in my pantry and everything. Everyone raves about it! Glad to hear you were also impressed.

    (PS: An afternoon with cake and reruns playing, especially that includes The Office, sounds like my kind of day.)