How is this the first time I’ve ever tasted pumpkin butter? The pride of making and canning your own preserves is a delight I discovered in medical school in what was the year of the tomato with a sudden winter that made me want to bottle the summertime like a jam and savor it through the winter.
I’ve been on a Franny Choi kick lately, and her Strawberry Moon poem strikes a chord with this canning business: “The house was filled with the smell of it, the last misshapen,/ sweet-heavy berries of the season losing their shapes on the/ stove. The house was filled with the smell of fruit unbecoming,/ fruit pulled to its knees at fire’s feet.”
This cookbook, Can It and Ferment It by Stephanie Thurow is the answer to the food problem of the fall—too much harvest and not enough belly room. I started with this pumpkin butter recipe, but Mom just sent me my first crock and so more to come in the fermentation department!
Isn’t that cute how the book has these little old-fashioned notecard spaces in the text?! Okay, for the big Thanksgiving dinner—consider this delight. I’ve made this cake twice, once with all the layers as below, and again, with four layers of ALL pumpkin spice.
“And so, as the light died, we put our mouths/ on the least lovable, the too=full, the easy-bruised, we shouted,/ I choose you, and you, and you, and you, and canned that/ hunger, and spooned it into our mouths on the coldest days.”
I am so grateful for the family whose love surrounds me even when I’m so far, in some cold and lonely call room by myself, I feel loved and cared for and blessed because of you, family; and, also, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be someone’s missing family on a holiday night in the hospital when we have no choice but to band together for healing and hope.
Three Layer Thanksgiving Cake
Adapted from Food and Wine
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus softened butter for greasing
2 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed and drained if frozen
1/3 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups candied pecans, roughly chopped
1 1/4 pounds cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
Make the cakes first. Preheat the oven to 350° with racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds. Butter three 9-by-9-inch metal cake pans and dust with flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk 2 1/4 cups of the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with the granulated sugar, buttermilk and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the dry ingredients until just combined.
Divide the batter among 3 medium bowls (1 1/2 cups per bowl). Whisk the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour into one of the bowls, then scrape the batter into one of the prepared pans. Fold the cranberries and cornmeal into another bowl and scrape into a second prepared pan. Fold the pecans into the final bowl and scrape the batter into the last prepared pan.
Transfer all 3 pans to the oven and bake the cakes for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.
Meanwhile, make the frosting in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt until smooth.
Place the pecan layer on a platter. Scrape 3/4 cup of the frosting on top and spread to the edge. Top with the cranberry layer; scrape another 3/4 cup of the frosting on top and spread to the edge. Top with the pumpkin layer. You could leave it here and display the variety of the layers without putting icing on the sides, or you could spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake and refrigerate until set, 15 minutes. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes, before serving.
Look at this MidCity Dinner Club spread for our Friendsgiving this weekend. So grateful for my neighborhood family.
Okay, and then there’s the beverage department—the most refreshing new organic fizzy goodness that arrived on my porch today was from Sipp! DELICIOUS and fresh an au naturale.
My favorite flavor was the elderflower and tarragon sparkling organic bubbly. And then what am I carrying in my scrub pockets for my on-call in-a-rush healthy snack? Setton Farms Pistachio chewy bites! Pistachios and cranberries individually wrapped so I can tuck them into each and every pocket. They are loaded with magnesium, a mineral which is supposed to help relax and calm the anxious. If I could prescribe them, I would.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Over and out.