The American Baking Competition finalist Francine Bryson bakes her Southern-style cakes, pies and biscuits with love and tips and tricks from the women in her family in Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen.
This is definitely not your average pumpkin cake, but it is one of the best I’ve got. I came up with this one playing around in the kitchen before a pumpkin cook-off, and, would you believe, it won that big old blue ribbon. It’s different—with a whole lot of flavors and textures—but they’re all balanced. In each slice, you get the chocolate from the Oreos on top, the crunch of the mixed nuts, and then the smoothness of the cake. The mixed party nuts sound a little bit crazy, but, I promise, they work—they give every bite just a bit of a distinct flavor from the last one. Greek yogurt makes a real rich batter, and the lemon-flavored kind is just so good with the pumpkin.
1 9-inch layer cake
- Make the cookie crunch: Butter four 9-inch cake pans. Using a food processor, pulse the Oreos until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse the nuts until finely chopped. Add to the Oreo crumbs along with the brown sugar and mix well. Pour in the butter and mix until fully incorporated. Divide the crunch topping mixture among the cake pans, pressing onto the bottom of each and spreading evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Start the cake: Using an electric mixer, beat the granulated sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add the pumpkin, flour, yogurt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract and mix until just blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and mix until just blended.
- Divide the batter equally over the cookie crunch in each of the cake pans, smoothing the top of the batter evenly. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pans on wire racks While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting: Using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese and butter until very smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
- When the cakes are completely cool, unmold them. Frost the Oreo side (top) of each layer and then stack them, cake side down, to put the cake together. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides.
- Refrigerate the cake or keep it in a cool place so that the frosting doesn’t melt.
- Before serving, prepare the chocolate topping: In a saucepan, bring the eggnog just to a simmer and then add the chocolate. Remove from the heat and stir until the chocolate has fully melted. Drizzle over the cake and let set before serving.
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen. Copyright © 2014 by Francine Bryson. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Ben Fink. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.