Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Sheet Cake | Pretty Little Pastimes

Would you believe me if I told you that I have never had a pumpkin spice latte in my life? It might be hard to accept, but it’s true. I actually gave up drinking caffeine completely more than 5 year ago so I have to pass on the seasonal coffees and teas. But before you start feeling bad for me, rest assured that I make sure to get my all-things-pumpkin fix in during the fall season. I LOVE the time of year when pumpkin flavored treats line the shelves of local grocery stores and bakeries. Then again, who doesn’t?

In my last post I shared the recipe for the Nantucket Cranberry Citrus Pie that sat on our dessert table this Thanksgiving. You’ve probably guessed that there was more than one sweet treat sharing the stage and you are right. My husband loves pumpkin rolls and I love cake, so here you have it: Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. After all, marriage is all about compromise, right? This Pumpkin Sheet Cake is rich, moist, and has that pumpkin spice flavor no one can’t get enough of during the fall. It is definitely a keeper.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake | Pretty Little Pastimes

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar, Sifted
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13″ x 18″ sheet pan with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 sticks butter. Whisk in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice until combined completely. Whisk in boiling water until mixture is smooth and combined. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Whisk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Pour in the pumpkin mixture and stir until halfway combined. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir until combined. Pour into the pan and smooth until even. Tap the tray against the counter a few times to release the air bubbles. Bake the cake for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

To make the frosting, mix together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and salt until smooth. Add milk and check the consistency. You want it to be thick and smooth, but still thin enough to spread easily over the cake. If your frosting is too thick add additional milk until desired consistency.

Spread the frosting all over the surface of the cake and sprinkle with chopped walnuts (optional). Cut into squares and serve.

*If you like a very thick layer of frosting, you can easily double the frosting recipe. I actually reserved some of my frosting to top homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls the next morning. So, so good!

Pumpkin Sheet Cake | Pretty Little Pastimes

The size of this cake is perfect for sharing with friends and family at any holiday gathering. Enjoy!

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Nantucket Cranberry Citrus Pie

Nantucket Cranberry Citrus Pie I Pretty Little Pastimes

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for many reasons. For one, I was born on Thanksgiving, so I kind of think of it as a second birthday (a celebration my parents really never got on board for). Secondly, it’s a day devoted to spending time with family and friends and reflecting on what we are truly thankful for. And, of course, it’s a day where we can wear our stretchy pants and eat all day long without guilt. I LOVE Thanksgiving!

I know some people dread the prep work and cooking, but I actually enjoy it. Since moving away from family, my *now* hubby and I have spent the last three years perfecting our own little Boston Thanksgiving dinner and testing new dishes to put on the “it’s a tradition, we have to make it” list. The main course is pretty solid, so dessert is really where I get to experiment.

One thing missing from our table is cranberry – anything. Walking through the grocery store right before Thanksgiving, cranberries are everywhere! On this year’s pre-Thanksgiving trip I decided to see what all the fuss was about and tossed a bag of fresh cranberries in the cart. I had no idea what I was going to make with them at that point, but was certainly up for the challenge.

I adore extra-tart treats, so this Nantucket Cranberry Citrus Pie definitely hit the spot for me. The crust, which is more cake-like than a traditional pie crust, will really stand out against any apple or pumpkin pie at the table. The addition of citrus zest compliments the cranberries and adds an unexpected pop of flavor. If you prefer sweeter-sweets, just add some whipped cream, ice cream, or honey to the top of the pie before you dig in. Just as the pilgrims would have wanted.

Nantucket Cranberry Citrus Pie I Pretty Little Pastimes

Nantucket Cranberry Citrus Pie

  • 2 heaping cups fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 3/4 tablespoon orange zest (I used the zest from one clementine)
  • 1 and 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted + extra for greasing the pan
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously butter a pie pan. Add whole cranberries to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the cranberries, followed by 2/3 cup of sugar (it is going to seem like a ton of sugar, but the cranberries are very tart so sprinkle, sprinkle).

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, orange zest, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine.

Pour the batter slowly and evenly over the surface of the cranberry, pecan, and sugar layer. Spread out gently if needed.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. 5 minutes before removing from the oven, sprinkle the surface with 1 tablespoon sugar for a little crunch (if desired).

Cut into wedges and serve with fresh whipped cream or a honey drizzle.

Nantucket Cranberry Citrus Pie I Pretty Little Pastimes

And there you have it, a quick, easy, and most importantly delicious cranberry dish for your fall table that isn’t shaped like a can. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

Happy first day of October everyone! If you are like me, than you try to hold on to summer just as long as you can. Unfortunately, for us on the East Coast summer came late and fall didn’t follow in suit. But now that it is officially October (and fall) I am gearing up for my favorite season, full of baking, decorating and holiday celebrations! I thought it would be appropriate to kick off the season on Pretty Little Pastimes with a pumpkin cookie recipe. While the lines grow longer for PSL’s, non-caffeine drinkers like me have to get their pumpkin fix in other ways. So, I present to you the Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodle! Fluffy, sweet and full of fall flavors, this has to be one of my top five cookies of ALL TIME! I hope you love them as we do. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cup of sugar together until no lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin puree until smooth. Set aside.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

In a large bowl, toss together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 1 and 1/2 teaspooons cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula. Fold in the butterscotch chips. Cover the dough and let chill for at least 30 minutes. This is an important step, so don’t skip it!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into balls (about 1/2 tablespoons each). Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll each of the doughballs generously in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating all sides. Arrange on the two baking sheets. Slightly flatten the dough balls, as the dough will not spread much while cooking.
pumpkin butterscotch snickerdoodles I Pretty Little Pastimes

pumpkin butterscotch snickerdoodles I Pretty Little PastimesBake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. You can store at room temperature for up to one week … but they NEVER last that long!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

 

Follow along for more fall-inspired treats this season!

Glammed Up Apple Pie

Glammed Up Apple Pie I Pretty Little Pastimes

I warned you in my last post that you would be seeing more apple recipes coming you way and here you have it! I knew when I went apple picking that I would need to try my hand at baking my very first apple pie. I could have made a hundred different dishes with exotic flavors from complicated recipes, but there is just nothing more comforting than a warm homemade apple pie. The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg coming from the oven was enough to make me a very impatient baker. They say a watched pot never boils, but I will add that a watched pie never browns!

As you probably guessed from the Greek letters, I am a Sigma Kappa Sorority alumnae. Although I graduated college some years ago, I am still very active as both an advisor and alumnae chapter officer. Since my trip to the apple orchards was part of an alumnae chapter event, I decided to glam up my pie with a little sorority flare! I was nervous about freehand cutting hearts from the dough, but I was very pleased with the results and really think it adds a little extra charm to the finished product. I wanted to share it here, because I think (even without the letters) it would make a great fall treat for someone special, or a thoughtful gift for the host of a dinner party. Enjoy!

Traditional Apple Pie

  • 5 and 1/2 cups apples (I used a mix of Courtland, Empire & Gala)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pure granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • favorite homemade (or ready-made) double pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Begin prepping the filling by peeling, coring and slicing your apples. In a large bowl, mix sliced apples, lemon juice, sugars, flour, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss until apples are evenly coated. Fill bottom pie crust with the apple mix.

Roll out the top pie crust and cut out small hearts using a paring knife or very small cookie cutter. Adhere the cut out pieces of dough by brushing the back of each with a small amount of milk or water, just enough to make it sticky, but not soggy. Carefully lay the top pie crust over the filled pie and crimp the edges, hopefully a little prettier than my attempt!

Place pie in oven and bake for 15 minutes to brown. Lower the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Once finished, remove the pie and transfer it to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream.

*Baking tip* After 30 minutes of baking, loosely cover the edges of the pie with a thin layer of aluminum foil to avoid over-browning.

Apple Pie Smoothie

Apple Pie Smoothie I Pretty Little PastimesIt took me a few weeks to come to terms with the fact that summer was really over and that fall was here. It’s not that I don’t enjoy fall, beautiful foliage, new boots and pumpkin EVERYTHING, I mean, what’s not to love? It’s just knowing what comes next … ugh, winter! I have survived four winters since leaving California, so you would imagine that I would be beginning to accept it’s existence, but, alas, I am still in denial.

Rather than sulk as I pack away my sundresses and swimsuits, I decided to embrace fall and try my hand at a couple of new adventures. The first was apple picking! A group of friends and I made the trek to Russell Orchards in Ipswich, MA for a day of hay rides, cider doughnuts, and wine tasting. I’m sure they could all tell that I was the orchard newbie when I cringed at the idea of taking one bite out of an apple and throwing the rest on the ground. I guess that “don’t be a litter bug” mentality it ingrained deep inside. Once I saw a bunch of bees happily taking care of the discarded apples, I felt much better. By the end of the day, I had a huge bag apples, fresh cider, homemade jam and even a mini pumpkin to take home. Success!

Apple Picking I Pretty Little Pastimes

As I make my way through my stock pile of apples, I will continue to share recipes and photos. I will start with a simple (and tasty) apple pie smoothie. Oh, and if you have any must-try apple recipes for me, please send them my way!

Apple Pie Smoothie

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 apple, sliced and cored
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (or to taste)
  • handful of ice cubes

Add all ingredients into a high speed blender. Blend until smooth. Add additional ice cubes until desired consistency.

For cinnamon sugar rim: Dip glass rim onto a shallow dish of water. Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon onto a flat plate. Dip moistened rim into sugar mixture, shaking off excess. Garnish with an apple slice and enjoy!