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Pumpkin Cranberry Cake Recipe

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Pumpkin Cranberry Cake mixes pumpkin puree, chopped nuts, and dried cranberries into a moist and flavorful batter that is scented with ground cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Delicious on its own, but I couldn't resist covering the top with a delicious Cream Cheese Frosting.   

A few notes on ingredients. First, the pumpkin puree. For convenience sake, you can use store bought canned pumpkin puree as it is one of the few processed products that is almost as good as fresh. But make sure to buy 'plain' pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie filling which has the spices already added. And since we will not be using the whole can, leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for about five days or else frozen for up to six months. If you want to make your own puree start by using the smaller pumpkin varieties like Sugar Pie, Baby Bear, or Cheese Pumpkin (approximately 5-7 lbs., 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 kg.). First, cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove all the seeds and stringy fibers, and then place, cut-side down, on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for approximately 45 - 90 minutes (depending on size) or until easily pierced with a knife. Let cool and then scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. You do need to extract all the liquid, so strain the pumpkin puree through a cheesecloth lined strainer.

Along with the pumpkin, we also use pecans and dried cranberries in this recipe. Pecans are uniquely American, so if you live outside North America they may be hard to find. An excellent alternative is the walnut as these two nuts are closely related. Toasting the pecans (or walnuts) brings out their lovely buttery sweet flavor. The final addition is dried cranberries. The benefits of using dried cranberries over fresh is that they are available year round and have a really nice soft texture and tart yet sweet flavor. When buying dried cranberries look for berries that are plump, moist, with that bright ruby red color.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour a 9 inch (23 cm) square baking pan.

Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from oven, cool completely, and then coarsely chop.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, and ground ginger.

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy (2 - 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture (in three additions) alternately with the pumpkin puree and milk (in two additions), beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated. Beat or stir in the chopped pecans and dried cranberries. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. 

Frost the top of the Cake and, if desired, sprinkle with toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds.

Cover and store the cake in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days, or it can be frozen. Serve cold or bring to room temperature.

Makes about 9 servings.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Cake:

1 cup (100 grams) pecans

1 3/4 cups (225 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking powder

1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking soda

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 grams) light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs (100 grams), at room temperature

1 cup (220 grams) pumpkin puree (no spices added)

1/4 cup (60 ml/grams) milk, at room temperature

1/2 cup (70 grams) dried cranberries

Frosting: (Optional)

6 ounces (170 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (120 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

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