This Pastel de Calabaza is the perfect way to get your pumpkin fix. A moist one-bowl cake is paired with a rich cream cheese frosting for the best taste of fall.Jump to Recipe
We often hear that places —- structures, foundations, pillars of sorts —- craft a person, but here in the Northwest is an inversion of the matter.
A stone’s throw away from the canal, feeding into Lake Union, a person makes a place. A restaurant specifically, with tangerine walls and turquoise trim. A vibrant green mantel is plated armadillo-like, with a glittery armoring of sacred hearts, metallic crosses, and a Virgin Mary portrait thrown in for good measure. Multi-colored fairy lights continue the colorful menagerie of papel picados that are swaying between the cross breeze rolling in from the back dining room windows. Clusters of skeleton heads and lanky figurines pack into corners, shelves, and flat surfaces next to a pinch bowl of salt and chili powder.
In the photo above I experimented with the recipe and tried it without walnuts and coconut and it turned out well.
Alfredo is the manager that makes this magic happen. Gone are you from the modernized blocked grey of the Pacific Northwest. You are for a brief second not where you’re meant to be in the best possible way.
And it is Alfredo that makes up this magic. You know when he makes the cake, it is just that much of a difference.
Not to spill the full secret out here is a glimpse of that special bite —-Pastel de Calabaza. His cake, originally made with carrots, gets a seasonal autumnal twist.
This pumpkin cake is an oil-based one-bowl delight of an assembly. Dry and wet ingredients whisk together until smooth. Then a purée of pumpkin gets added alongside a delightful pair of ingredients —- coconut and walnuts. Raisins are a good guest to the party as well, as they accentuate the cinnamon spice in the cake batter.
I made the cake both with and without the mix-ins, and it turned out equally well.
Cream cheese frosting does a poor job of disguising itself as buttercream. It has more of a rich cheesecake-like taste and texture than the traditional sweet cream cheese frosting we’re all used to.
It’s a taste of something luxurious stopping, a break you never knew you needed to pause for. It’s only really when you take those moments do you realize it’s worth it.
Pastel de Calabaza
For the Pastel de Calabaza
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups acorn squash mashed
- 1 cup walnuts roughly chopped
- ¾ cup shredded coconut
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese very soft
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
To Make the Pastel de Calabaza
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with baking spray, line with parchment paper, spray again, and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
- Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in the oil, eggs, and vanilla, whisking to combine.
- Fold in the purée, walnuts, and coconut.
- Evenly distribute between two pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean with a few moist crumbs, about 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, let rest in pans for 5 minutes and then inverter onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To Make the Cream Cheese Frosting
- Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes on a medium speed. Scrape the bowl frequently.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar alternating with the lemon juice followed by salt and vanilla.
- Fold in lemon zest.
- Frost cake and enjoy.