Healthy Oven Autumn Pumpkin Layer Cake

  • Serves: Makes 2, 8 - or 9- x 2-inch round cake layers or one, 9 x 13-inch cake pan
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
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The flavors of pumpkin and cranberry are just as much a part of the autumn experience as colorful leaves and the scent of firewood. This cake would be welcome at a Thanksgiving buffet. I have developed this cake to bake with applesauce, allowing me to drastically cut the fat and calories, but not the flavor. This goes well with my Healthy Oven Low-Fat Buttercream Frosting

2 1/2 cups whole-grain wheat pastry flour (spoon into measuring cup and level to top)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup maple syrup, preferably grade B
1/2 cup fresh orange juice or water
1 large egg or 2 large egg whites
1 large egg white
1 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange or 1/4 teaspoon pure orange oil

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries; no need to thaw if frozen

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. (If using dark, nonstick baking pans or ovenproof, Pyrex glass pans, be sure to reduce the oven heat by 25 degrees F).

Lightly spray 2, 8 - or 9- x 2-inch round cake pans or one 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well combined. Set aside.

3. In another medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer set at high speed, beat the pumpkin, applesauce, maple syrup, orange juice, egg, egg white, oil, vanilla and orange zest, until lightened and frothy, about 1 minute.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the pumpkin mixture. Using a spoon, stir until almost combined. The batter will be thick, and there should be a few traces of flour remaining. Do not overmix.

5. Divide the batter equally between the two pans. Using a gentle touch, smooth the tops. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes (about 20 minutes in the 9-inch cake pans; 25 minutes in a 9 x 13-inch cake) or until the cakes spring back when pressed gently in the center and the sides are starting to pull away from the pans. Do not overbake.

6. Cool in pan on wire cake rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. Turn right side up, and cool completely.

Suggested: 2 recipes Healthy Oven Low-Fat Buttercream Frosting,  to be able to fill and frost the top and sides of the cake.
Place one cake, flat side up on a serving platter. Spread with about 1/2 cup frosting. Place the other side, round side up, on the bottom layer. Frost the top of the cake with the remaining frosting and serve.

The frosted cake can be stored at room temperature for a day or two, preferably under an inverted bowl or in a cake keeper. Refrigerate after that for up to 5 days total.
Applesauce-based cakes attract moisture from the air and become sticky on top.
The cake can be frozen for about a month. Thaw in its wrappers at room temperature.

by Sarah Phillips, The Healthy Oven Baking Book, Doubleday, 1999

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