October 23, 2011

A Nutmeg House, Some Course Sea Salt, and a Pumpkin Spice Cake

I relive an embarrassing moment every time I grate fresh nutmeg, which I did today when making this cake.

My mom has always called the little nutmeg grater thing a “nutmeg house.” Being so literal, I never picked up on the fact that she completely made up the name and that isn’t actually called a nutmeg house. In retrospect, I should have known that the “here, little nutmeg, let’s get you out of your little nutmeg house” in a high-pitched voice wasn’t my mom being serious. (And no, despite the fact that she actually does this every time she grates nutmeg, she’s not crazy. I promise.) But nonetheless, a few years ago when I decided to buy myself my own nutmeg house, I actually to be shown where the nutmeg houses were. To which the sales clerk looked at me blankly.

But whatevs.

I quickly forgot about the embarrassment as I made the batter for this Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chocolate Chips today and relished in how easy and quick it was (and of the fact that I cleaned up as I went for a change).

I love moist pumpkin cakes, especially when they are studded with chocolate chips. I thought I had a winner of a recipe, until my mom started talking about this version, which she saw on Martha Stewart’s show Friday and promptly made herself. This version packs two lovely punches vs. the one I usually make every Fall (and that one is damn good, too). Course sea salt and a crème fraiche glaze.

Most simple pumpkin cakes are unfrosted, unglazed. But this. This tangy version adds a little something nice and unexpected with its thin layer of crème fraiche and confectioners’ sugar dripping down the sides. Note: I had to use sour cream because Byerly’s wasn’t stocked per usual, and it worked just fine.

The salt, though, I think it the real show-stopper. Using course vs fine makes so that you actually get little hits of salty with your pumpkin-y sweet. And it’s brilliant. I will for sure start pondering this swap more often in my baking. I’ve also had great success with it in chocolate chip cookies.

This cake is pretty. It’s super moist. Super flavorful. Not cloyingly sweet. A little bit tangy from the glaze. A little bit salty from the salt. A little bit chocolaty from the chips. And very much Fall from the pumpkin and warm spices (nutmeg, cloves, ginger).

We had a piece while waiting for dinner tonight because we just couldn’t wait. And I’m guessing we’ll have another before we go to bed.

You can find the recipe here.

Note: I took this cake out of the oven at 65 minutes (a little early). My oven runs true—and this was perfectly done at that point.

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