I went home last weekend to surprise my sister for her 40th birthday. I forgot how fun it is to surprise people. The night before her birthday, on Halloween, I showed up at her door wearing a mask and said, “Trick or Treat!” She immediately started jumping up and down and screamed something like, “No you did NOT!” I don’t really know what that means, but it was fun to see her surprised.
I don’t make it back to Minnesota that often anymore, but when I do it’s usually a mad scramble of trying to fit in time with my divorced parents, my sister, and both of my grandmothers, among other people. I wanted this trip to be different. I was going back essentially to celebrate my sister, so everyone else was going to be an “If I have time” item on my list. The morning of my sister’s birthday, my dad asked if he could take my sister and I to a little river town in Wisconsin for breakfast. I realized after we got into the car that we had not spent time together just the three of us in many years. I know I have a horrible memory, but I want to say that it’s been since maybe high school? It was such a nice time, and so unexpected, that I found myself trying to really soak it all in. After breakfast, we decided to visit the top of a nearby bluff that has beautiful scenery. On the way there, I was overcome with a strong feeling of tranquility. It made me so happy to know that the three of us can spend time together and truly enjoy each other’s company. Like most families, we have had our share of rough patches. I really wanted to turn to them and say, “I love you guys”, the way I would to a close girlfriend but I was afraid it would make things awkward. So I didn’t. I let the moment pass. I hope the next time I am overcome with emotion for them I have the courage to tell them how I feel.
I have been meaning to buy a bundt pan for over a year. I finally bought one a month ago, and was so excited about it that I had the crazy idea I was going to make a different type of bundt cake every week. Well, I’ve made one so far. And of course it was pumpkin. There’s really no other option when the beginning of fall is in the air and the weather starts to change. What am I going to make– a red velvet cake?? PLEASE. I am a pumpkin fiend! I increased the amount of spices from the original recipe in Bon Appétit, and also substituted a bit of brown sugar for the granulated sugar. The cake is moist and rich, and the spices really shine through. Make it for your next fall gathering, and wow everyone at the table.
Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing
- 10-inch nonstick bundt pan
- 1 1/2 sticks 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin from a 15 oz. can
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.
- Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl.
- Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.
- Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks), brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute.
- Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.
- Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
- Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and re-invert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.
- While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.