Baking a mess

October 2009 Southern Living

October 2009 Southern Living

After seeing the cover of the October issue of Southern Living, I knew that I wanted to bake those adorable pumpkins. I mean first of all, who doesn’t love holiday treats? But I love to make them.

I set out to find the perfect pan that would mold my little cakes into pumpkin shapes, and it turned out that the infamous Wal-mart had one that would do. I invested in the mini-Bundt pan and started purchasing all the ingredients the next week.

Pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar and eggs were all on the shopping list. I toured around Publix and snatched everything I needed off the shelves. I was making record time and almost finished, the only thing I had left was canned pumpkin. At the very end of the aisle, next to pie fillings and canned fruits, was an empty space that once contained the canned pumpkin. This put a serious halt in my plans.

I asked an employee to look in the back, but there was no canned pumpkin to be found. However, I was determined to get baking the very day.

I took everything home and set out the butter and cream cheese to soften, then I rushed off in search of another source of pumpkin. Sweetbay to the rescue! I bought two cans (way more than I needed) just in case something went wrong.

I preheated the oven and mixed all the ingredients together, following the specific directions word by word. After I created a light orange mixture that was heavy when you lifted it up on a spoon, I prepared my new pan for it’s first bake. After washing it and giving it a coat of baking spray, I began to put a dollop of orange in each little cup.

There were twelve Bundt shapes to fill three quarters full, but I had plenty of batter to go around. Plop, plop, plop– the batter was just right.

My oven had reached the perfect 350 degrees well before my pan was ready so when I finished filling it up it went straight in. While the my little muffin-like cakes were toasting, I gathered up the ingredients for a caramel rum glaze.

I boiled down a cup of brown sugar with some butter and evaporated milk and removed it from the hot stove. Te instructions said to add powdered sugar but it ended up like a snow flurry coming down into the pan. For the half that actually made it in, I stirred it together with the sticky butter mixture until it thickened and added “the good stuff,” rum.

Now that my glaze was ready to go, I had to wait a couple minutes for my cakes. The buzzer would alert me in just a few moments that they were ready.

Beep, beep, beep. Time’s up. I reached in with an oven-mitt and grabbed the pan by a hot corner. They looked and smelled delicious. Now they just had to cool down for a bit.

When they were ready, I cut the excess tops off, and stacked the cakes together in pairs to create a pumpkin shape. I cemented the two pieces together with glaze and then drizzled more on the top of each one. The light brown glaze didn’t quite make them look like pumpkins, but I knew the finishing touch would do the trick.

I molded caramel squares into stems, leaves and vines, just like a real pumpkin would have. Each treat got one of each and they were perfect for any party after I arranged them on a cute platter.

Bon Appetit! My halloween treats were ready to go, and I was ready to try one. The pumpkin flavor was balanced just right with the sweetness of all that sugar. Yum.

The only problem I had to face now, was cleaning up the huge mess I had made while cooking. My kitchen looked like a war-zone with powdered sugar on every surface; dirty pots, pans and spatulas; and pieces of pumpkin batter dotting my countertop.

In the end, my pumpkin cakes may have come out like the cover of Southern Living but my kitchen certainly didn’t!

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