Let’s just get this out of the way right now - I don't make traditional Thanksgiving desserts anymore. I’m happy to be inspired by the traditional dessert flavors - and why not? Those flavors are there because it’s what’s in season. But truthfully I’ve never loved the two desserts that Americans settled on as expected Thanksgiving meal closers: pecan pie and pumpkin pie.
Mostly it’s because I don’t like pie. Pie crusts are so bland and usually frightfully underbaked. The filling for a pecan pie is pretty delicious though, and I’ll eat a slice of pumpkin pie if it’s buried under enough whipped cream (bonus points if it’s a spiked whipped cream which will help wash all my blues away regarding lack of dessert options).
Now that we’ve discussed such a hot button topic, let’s discuss what I do like: desserts. I mean, obviously.
Since my friends and I had that amazing brunch a few weeks back when I created those scrumptious scones (I didn’t write a blog about them but you can find what I wrote about them on my social media), we realized that we’re all pretty decent cooks. And since I was out of the country for the actual Thanksgiving day, we got together a few days before I left and held our own Friendsgiving celebration.
In addition to the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc. that we made for each other, I also offered to make dessert. (Before I made the offer, I prefaced it with “I do not like or eat pies,” then asked if everyone was ok with me making a non-traditional dessert. They were totally ok with it.)
Which is how this pumpkin and pecan cake with bourbon caramel came about. It has everything a Thanksgiving dessert needs: Pumpkin! Pecan! Bourbon! (Obviously, since that’s the exact title of the cake.)
I know you’re busy since it’s a holiday weekend and you’re probably trying to explain to your grandparents exactly what your job is for the umpteenth time
so I’ll keep this one brief.
This cake was both delicious AND pretty, but just because it didn’t require any decorating after it was baked doesn’t mean that it didn’t require any decorating time. In fact, the decorations were the very first thing I did! So here’s my tip of the week: pick out your desired pecans first (personally, I wanted to only work with pristine halves, but you might want to work with chipped pieces for an artsy mosaic look, or even halves that are all the same size if you have a touch of OCD about your decorations - whatever floats your boat!) and place them all FACE DOWN in your parchment lined pan.
That’s right, I said face down. Technically this is an upside down cake, which means that 8ish minutes after this cake came out of the oven, I flipped it upside down to reveal the beautiful pecan pattern. The recipe said 5 minutes and not a minute more, but truthfully I was concerned that the incredible bourbon caramel the pecans were drenched in before I added the cake batter would run down the sides and escape the cake, which is why I let it cool a few extra minutes. It was the right call for me. I was even able to use a scribe tool to adjust some of the pecans that shifted out of the pattern while the cake baked.
Ok, that’s it for me since I’m in a foreign country trying to share all of this baking knowledge from the tiny screen of my phone (which is why photo sizes or other things might be a bit different in this post). When I get back stateside, get ready because it will be all Christmas baking from me and I couldn’t be more excited! Until then..
Happy eating, y’all!
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