Chocolate pumpkin spice cake

I’ve been accused of packing boring lunches (not so boring that anyone wants to eat a school lunch, though), but when questioned about what other kids are bringing for lunch that is so much more exciting, my accusers could only come up with one word: “Cake.”

It’s February, and I finally tipped the last stale Christmas cookies into the garbage. Maybe we all need a little cake. I’d forgotten about this recipe until I saw a stray can of pumpkin in the pantry this morning. I made it once for a Christmas party, and it was a simple way to blend all my favorite holiday flavors in a single cake pan. To be fair, you don’t really taste the pumpkin, and I’m certain you could substitute applesauce if that’s what’s in your pantry. It’s a big cake, but it’s moist and keeps well, so you can nibble on it all week. And the scent of spices and chocolate wafting from the oven makes everything else in the day just a little more congenial.

I won’t be skipping the sandwiches and fruit, kids, but if you’re pretty good I might sneak a little slice of this into your lunch tomorrow.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

adapted from Maida Heatter

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 15-oz. can solid-pack pumpkin (or 2 cups pumpkin puree)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 cup. unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with baking spray (or grease and flour very thoroughly).

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add vanilla and sugar and beat well. Add eggs two at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa powder. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture to the butter mixture and beat on the lowest speed. Add the pumpkin, and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat only until just incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the Bundt pan, pushing the batter into the pan and smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake for 90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean and dry. Let the cake stand in the pan for 15 minutes, then cover the pan with a rack and carefully flip it over. Remove the pan and let the cake cool completely.

If you like, sift some confectioner’s sugar over the cooled cake before serving.

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