What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Pumpkin harvest cake celebration

Cal Orey
Special to the Tribune

Welcome to October and harvest season. It’s the ideal time to make a special pumpkin spice wonder. Meet the Bundt cake. It’s a must-have fall dessert baked in a Bundt pan. A Bundt pan comes from Europe but it’s been popular for decades in the United States, too. Not only is it versatile, it reminds me of the new moon — a day before my birthday — coming up this weekend that will light up Mother Nature’s serene seasonal changes, from changing leaves, trees and calm lake on the South Shore.

Last weekend I was celebrating the beginning of autumn. On Sunday, I took my two boys — the young Aussie and older Brittany — on a long walk and a drive out to Fallen Leaf Lake — a place author John Steinbeck was snowbound with two dogs. It was a day to remember as I enjoyed two tails wagging — a simple pleasure that I could have lost due to a surprise scare.

Two weeks prior, after the dogs’ afternoon exercise, I discovered a lump on my senior dog’s forehead. One vet visit later the verdict was surgery ASAP. Monday morning my 10 year-old-canine companion endured a biopsy. We waited for results. On Thursday, I got the dreaded phone call. Intuitively I sensed it was going to be fine but my mind was playing “what if” games. After the telephone ring the words “benign” hit home. Exhale.

Now, the funny looking Elizabethan cone is off and Simon is back — a wonderful pre-birthday gift. And I decided to make my own cake early. Instead of creating a chocolate cake (my favorite), I made the decision to go with a more seasonal and bittersweet treat sprinkled with dark chocolate for health’s sake.

Harvest pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting

2 extra large organic brown eggs

6 tablespoons butter or olive oil (I used Pure Irish Butter)

1 spice cake mix

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (for the altitude)

1 cup water

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2-3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2-2 cups whipped cream cheese

2 tablespoons European style butter

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup organic 2 percent low-fat milk

1 capful vanilla extract

Raw sugar

Optional: orange food coloring and/or orange sprinkles

Mix cheese and butter. Stir in sugar. Add milk and vanilla.

Butter Bundt pan and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and melted butter. Stir in cake mix and flour. Add water and pumpkin. Sprinkle in spices and stir. Fold in chocolate. Mix until batter is smooth without lumps. Using a large spatula put into pan, smooth so it’s flat. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or till a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and is firm to touch. Cool for 10 minutes, then place a plate on top and turn over. Cool and drizzle frosting on top of slightly warm cake. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Serves 12-14. (If you’d like, add orange food coloring to the icing for a more festive October pumpkin-ish look.)

This semi-homemade cake is moist, thanks to the flavorful pumpkin. The earthy spices give the cake a fall-like kick and provide amazing scents throughout the kitchen, and the chocolate adds a rich, creamy texture and bittersweet taste. Not to forget the smooth cream cheese icing with a nice crunch form raw sugar. If you’re looking for a harvest cake your quest is over. This cake will win you over guaranteed with its unique beauty and timely nature. The dogs get crunchy dog biscuits to preserve their teeth for years to come.

Motto: Celebrate your blessings each day because in a heartbeat things can change with beloved people and pets in your life.

*A special thanks to Alpine Animal Hospital

— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Coffee is offered by the Good Cook Book Club. The Healing Powers of Honey will be featured in the November issue of Wellbella Magazine.) The Healing Powers of Coffee, Vinegar, Olive Oil, and Honey are sold at Walmart stores nationwide. This autumn, the author is revising and updating the 2nd edition of The Healing Powers of Olive Oil. Her website is

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