Lekker: Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Cake

My last blog post was about the amazingly simple Salted Butter Apple Galette, which I love as an alternative to pie because I hate pie. SUE ME. In that pies are traditional for Thanksgiving dessert and my hatred of them does not take holidays, I opted to make this Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Cake.

I chose this because

1. bourbon and
2. because I didn't want a painfully sweet saccharine dessert.

This cake strikes the perfect balance between sweet (the glaze and the maple candied pecans) and boozy-spiced-fall-ness, and was a hit at my table. Try with vanilla ice cream.

I like to envision this method of decorating as all the pecans coming to worship at the pecan Altar of Candied Wonder in the middle.

It doesn't really matter which bourbon you decide to use. Maker's Mark is my do-or-die favourite, but I am poor now and cannot afford that so I was good ol' Jack for me. Most of it bakes off though, so honestly it doesn't make any difference.

So, let's get baking!

serves 8


For the cake:

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin (Use the tinned stuff like I did, since I had leftovers from making one of my all-time favourites: Pumpkin Soup.)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup bourbon of your choice

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 2 T half-and-half
  • 1 T melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 T bourbon
  • 1 t vanilla extract

For the maple glazed pecans:
Shocking that you would need pecans and maple syrup, right?

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 2 T pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 t cinnamon



1.  First things first, in a small bowl mix together the pecans, maple syrup, and cinnamon really well. These babies are gonna soak in that goodness while you're mixing up the cake. Give it a stir every once in awhile to make sure the syrup gets into allllll the nooks & crannies.

2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 8-inch round cake pans. (I suppose this cake could also be done in a Bundt pan or some other loaf pan, or as cupcakes, but I don't know the cooking times and what have you for that.)

In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Whisk it well, since I'm saving you the hassle of actually sifting that flour separately to aerate it!

3. In another larger mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until light yellow and fluffy. Add the brown sugar, and beat again until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. See: light and fluffy. (Get the picture?) Then add your pumpkin and vanilla. It might look a little grainy and weird after you add the pumpkin, but don't try to overbeat it just to get rid of that. It's fine.

4. With your mixer on low, add half the flour mixture to the wet batter. Mix well. Add the milk, and mix well. Add the other half of the flour, and ___ ____. Finally, dump in the bourbon and mix well-ish.

5. Pour the batter evenly into your pans, and bake at 350 for about 20-ish minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pans and set on top of wire cooling racks for about 10 minutes (this gives the cake time to contract from the sides of the pan) and then flip out onto the racks to finish cooling.

6. *While* those babies are cooling, and your oven is still at 350, it's time to do the pecans! Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and dump your maple coated pecans on there. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove and toss, and bake for 5 minutes more. That's all it should take for them to go all nicely dark brown and smell amazing. Feel free to taste test one.

7. Since that only took 10 minutes and your cakes are probably still cooling, you can mix up your glaze now and give it time to set up.

Tangent: I have a love-hate relationship with glazes. They are easy because they literally involve just dumping everything together and stirring until smooth (so...do that), BUT. Since glazes have a more liquid consistency than frosting, you kind of just dribble it down over the top of the cake and hope that it will come dripping down the sides attractively. But if you want those attractive little drips, then you can't pour too much glaze on...WHICH MEANS THERE ISN'T ENOUGH GLAZEY GOODNESS ON THE DAMN CAKE! And I won't stand for that.

So what you should do is schmear a decent amount on the inside of your two 8-inch layers as a filling, and *then* content yourself with dribbling the glaze over the top. If you want to put something else or nothing at all in the middle, then here's what I suggest: do one layer of slow glaze dribbling. Stop. Leave it alone for about 15 minutes, giving it time to set up. Then come back and do a second layer. It still won't give you a ton of glaze on the sides, but there's more on the top and whatever, I suppose that works.

8. I honestly don't even remember where we were now. Oh right, okay so you made the glaze. Once the cakes are cool, stack them on a cake plate and glaze accordingly as discussed/ranted about above. Decorate with the pecans as you wish. Done!

It would have been nice if I had remembered to take a photo of the *inside* once we had cut a slice, but no. Of course not. FOR THE RECORD, though, it's a lovely dusty dark orange.

Recipe originally inspired by this one by Bakerella.