Pumpkin butter cake with pecans and chocolate chips

pumpkin-butter-pecan-cakeIt’s David’s birthday and I’m baking up a storm. I lay awake part of the night thinking about what I’d bake, and now I’m doing it and it is the most fun to cook when you think of it as a present for somebody you love. Last week I mentioned that I was experiencing a certain fatigue with my own tired and tiring voice, so I thought this week I’d let guest speakers do some talking and fill in with some words I never would have thought of stringing together, but thank heavens that somebody did. Today’s guest is John Donne, with a love poem. It is, of course, for David, and would be even if it wasn’t his birthday.


BY John Donne

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

It might have been written by an English poet in the 17th century, but every one of the words ring true and glow like burning coal, like they were written in my soul from me to you, except maybe the ones I don’t understand, although they convey a sort of mystery which is not inappropriate. (Still borrowing words! I bet Dylan liked Donne.) I was fascinated to read that the cartographical references in the last stanza might refer to a different kind of map than the one we’re familiar with. They might refer to a heart-shaped map that shows different worlds at once. I read this on wikipedia, so it might be nonsense, but it’s still a pleasing idea.

Pumpkin butter cake

Pumpkin butter cake

I made a cake with pumpkin butter in it!! This means it’s a little juicier, spicier and sweeter than a cake made with pumpkin puree. It’s important to adjust the spiciness and sweetness according to your particular brand of pumpkin butter. (Although you can’t really go wrong!!) I made a crumbly topping of pecans and chocolate chips, and baked them right into the cake.

Here’s If Not for You by Bob Dylan.

3 eggs
1 t vanilla
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch each nutmeg, allspice, and ginger
1/2 cup pumpkin butter
6 T butter

1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 T flour
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 T brown sugar
2 T butter

Preheat the oven to 375 and butter and flour a large cake pan.

In a food processor, process the eggs until light and fluffy and lemon-yellow. Add the sugar and vanilla and process until smooth. Add the pecans and process until they’re fairly well-ground. Add all of the dry ingredients, and process until smooth. Add the butter and pumpkin butter and process until they’re incorporated and the batter is smooth and fluffy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it over.

Back in the food processor, which you don’t even need to clean, combine the topping ingredients, process until they’re chunky and crumbly. Scatter these over the top of the cake.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cake is puffed and golden, and springs back when you press down lightly upon it.


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