Black Rum Spiced Pumpkin Cake

I like to think this recipe is a good stepping stone between people who like to bake, but haven’t yet stepped out of their comfort zone and away from the box desserts.

Sometimes, you are just craving a warm brownie, or are responsible for making a birthday cake for a friend, so you turn down the baking aisle at the store and stare down all the options that are out there. Do you want a chocolate cake, a dark chocolate cake, a german chocolate cake, a devil’s food cake, or vanilla? Do you want cookies, muffins, cake, or bread?

With so many options, it’s hard not to cut corners and pick up a premade mix that typically just requires a few eggs, oil, and some water. Sometimes you can fix them up, make them fancy, and no one knows the difference. Other times, it tastes like a box cake.

I want to say that’s okay, but sometimes it’s nice impressing your friends, and not letting them know you didn’t spend hours whipping up the batter.

So, this is a recipe that adds a little flavor to your typical, boxed vanilla cake mix. And it’s perfect for this time of the year! As far as cakes go, this an easy, and fun way to disguise the fact that part of it came from a box, and spicing up those pumpkin spice, boxed cakes vibes.

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Recipe:

Cake:

1/2 cup chopped pecans

15 ounces can pumpkin

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

1/4 cup water

1 package yellow cake mix

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

GLAZE:

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup butter, cubed

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup rum

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Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a bundt pan; roughly 10 inches. Sprinkle pecans onto the bottom of the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs, and water until well blended. In another bowl, whisk cake mix and spices; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture until well combined. Transfer to the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and onto a wire rack.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, and cloves; cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in rum; cook and stir 2-3 minutes longer or until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Gradually brush glaze onto warm cake, about 1/4 cup at a time, allowing the glaze to soak into the cake before adding more. Cool completely. This takes a long time, and there seems to be a lot, but it is worth it!
  6. Serve with some homemade vanilla icecream and enjoy.

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Dairy-Free Carrot Cake

I am always on the lookout for alternative ingredients for baking. For a little bit of my life, I was fully committed to a vegan lifestyle when dairy products had my stomach doing somersaults until the aching pain began. After moving to New York City and dining on delicious Italian food and dollar pizza weekly, my stomach began to tolerate the dairy I slowly reintroduced it back into my diet. Since then, I would not consider myself vegan or vegetarian, but I do try my best to eat at least one meal a day that is either vegan or vegetarian; even if that meal is dessert!

With autumn in my sights, I am ready to celebrate with rich, spicy treats. This carrot cake is something I came across in my search for delicious desserts that I would love, and my vegan friends could enjoy with me. Below you will find the recipe, steps, and gifs that will guide you on experience this milk, butter, and egg-free cake yourself!

Also, stay tuned for the coming months as I use this recipe to make some autumn-themed treats as I finally pull out my flannels, put out my fall decor, begin binge-watching Hocus Pocus, and pinpoint all the orchards I want to visit over the next three months.

Full Disclosure, the frosting is not dairy-free, hence its absence from the post. I will include my cream cheese frosting for this final product at the end of the post, but I am currently experimenting with other dairy-free icing recipes! 

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Snapshot of the ingredients

Recipe

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 1 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon 
1 1/3 tsp. nutmeg 
2/3 tsp. salt
2 cups of almond milk 
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or liquid state
1/2 cup maple syrup 
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups finely grated carrots 
1/3 cup raisin 
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts for decorating

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and prep two 8-inch rough baking pans with spray oil, parchment paper, and flour. Spray the pan a bit, so the paper you cut to size sticks, and dust the pan with flour.
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Prepping the tins with spray oil, parchment paper, and a dusting of flour
2. Gather your ingredients. I have measured out all of my ingredients below to save some time trying to sort for what I need (although it makes extra dishes, it looks a bit more organized).
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The ingredients measured out and ready for mixing
3. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
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Adding together the dry ingredients

4. Mix together the dry ingredients until they look well combined.

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Whisk, Baby, Whisk

5. Combine almond milk, applesauce, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar in another mixing bowl.

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Whisk, Baby, Whisk

6. Whisk together the wet ingredients, so they are no longer separated and form a rich caramel color.

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The holy combined wet ingredients
7. Gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients, mind you, I am using a 4-quart Pyrex mixing bowl for this recipe, a 2.5 quart is a tiny bit too small for the next whisking step.
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I wish I left the slopping noise on the gif
8. Thoroughly combine the ingredients together until you are sure there are no clumps of dry ingredients left. The batter should be slightly thick but on the runny side.
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Whisk, Baby, Whisk

9. Add in those finely shredded carrots. I left this process out because of how messy it can be. I used a tapered shredder that has a fine side and used about 2 VERY large carrots. Your hands will be orange, and you will be finding carrots for days after, but it’s worth it.

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Not Pictured: my orange fingertips
10. Raisin time! Add those babies in and stir it all up, at the end it will appear that everything has sunk to the bottom, but it’s there, don’t worry.
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Who knew vegetables and fruits belonged in a cake? 
11. Evenly pour the batter in your two pans, the batter should go about 2/3 of the way up the pan, and be mindful you don’t for all the raisins into one, we want those evenly distributed too!
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Looks a little lumpy, dealing with the oils can be hard, but I promise if it looks combined, it’s combined
12. Tap those babies down to loosen any air bubbles and put the pans in the oven for 35 minutes.
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Ready for the oven!
13. After the 30 minutes are up, take a fork and test to see if the middles are done by puncturing the middle and pulling it out; a clean fork is a happy cake!

14. Let the cakes rest in their cake tins for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, and then after ten minutes, they should just fall right out when you tip them over. I peeled off the parchment paper to help the steam release for an optimal cooling period.
15. Let the cakes completely cool before frosting with your favorite dairy-free or dairy-full cream cheese frosting; no one wants a melted frosting regardless if it has dairy or not. (See my recipe below!)
16. You can decorate with walnuts like I have, or not, the choice is yours! But you better cut & enjoy 😊
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Bonus Recipe

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
8 oz of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  1. With an electric beater, cream together butter and cream cheese until well combined.
  2. Add in vanilla, mix. 
  3. Sift in powdered sugar slowly, possibly a cup at a time at low speed with an electric beater, until the final cup is combined. If you want a richer vanilla flavor, and a touch more. 
  4. Frost away!