Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Dessert- Vintage style

So if something has been around a long time it is vintage, right? That is what this dessert today is. I am not sure when or where it originated but I know some variation of this has been circulating since the early 70's, so I will deem it vintage. I was hesitant to put this recipe on my blog since it uses... cake mix. I know that we all like to do things from scratch, but as my family said, once people try this they won't care if it uses cake mix! It is really that good. I took some to my daughter's art show last week and it was hit! Not only was every crumb scooped out of the dish by people standing around the table, folks came from all over the art department just to try it saying, " I heard there was a most incredible pumpkin cake here."

Now you may see variation on this pumpkin pie cake floating around the web. In the 60’s and 70’s, it was considered “modern”  and more efficient to use short cuts like cake mix.  I have to say, I tried a lot of them in my quest to recreate a childhood favorite. I like this one best. I like the way the pumpkin filling is encased is sweet crust. I like the texture. I use one of my baking secrets here of crushing up ginger snaps for the topping, too! You can skip that step but it really adds to the flavor and gives a nice crunch.

So this is a great pumpkin dessert, kind of a cake but reminiscent of pumpkin pie. I make it sometimes for thanksgiving since I like it better than pumpkin pie. It is one of my fall favorites.

Speaking of fall, ours has been interrupted by winter! Just as all the trees were starting to get really colorful…boom a foot or so of snow!! Crazy Colorado weather! We lost several branches, since all the trees were still decked out in the autumn party clothes and not ready for the burden of heavy, wet snow. I will post pictures at the end. I think I will declare our own snow day and watch a movie with my mom after a dust off some trees.  Or maybe I will make another batch of this pumpkin dessert!

Vintage Pumpkin Dessert
This is an old recipe with several variations. I have been working on this for years to re create something I remeber from childhood. This is made in three layers but it is super easy! It is best made the night before and chilled well but it can be served warm.  Serve topped with whipped cream.
Preheat oven at 350

Bottom Layer

1 box yellow cake mix
3/4 ish cup butter

In a large bowl, cut cool – room temp butter into mix with pastry blender or two knives slicing through to make small bits. Add cinnamon and blend.
Take out and set aside about 1 cups mix for later layer.
Add 1 beaten egg into main bowl. Mix well, press into 9 x 13 inch pan. May bake for 8 minutes while you mix the other things together. Gives it a bit more firmness.

Middle Layer

2 -15 oz cans ( or one large can) pumpkin *
3 eggs
 3/4 c. sugar, adjust to taste. Brown sugar is my choice here.

2 tsp pumpkin spice
10-12 oz evaporated skim milk **

Mix and pour over crust.
            *Don’t use pumpkin pie mix, just plain pumpkin.
**You may use a can of condensed milk instead of evaporated. I am not sure which way I like it better.  It is sweeter with condensed milk. If you use condensed milk in your pumpkin pie recipes then you would probably like it here too. Try it both ways and see what you think.

Top Layer

1 c. of reserved cake mix/butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
2 -3 tbsp. butter

2/3-3/4  cup crushed ginger snaps, optional but highly recommended***
2/3  c. chopped  or whole pecans or walnuts, optional

Mix and crumble over pumpkin. Bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees or until well set not mushy. Best chilled several hours or overnight. Serve topped with whipped cream.
        *** To crush ginger snaps, use blender or food processor or put them in a bag and pound with     meat mallet till pulverized.

I collected leaves before the snow fell

The differnence between day and night. Two days ago, it was close to 80 and yesterday was a nice fall day.

The snow began early in the evening!

Big drifts of heavy snow, lots of trees have lost limbs and I am sure the leaves will be drab once this melts and we are warm again!


  1. three layers of dessert - oh my. I think the second layer sounds particularly divine!

    ps. can't believe you've got snow already!

  2. Thanks Nish. Yes, I can't beleive it but mostly because October has been so warm, lots of summer like days and the leaves are all still on the trees. We almost always have a freezing cold hallloween but it is so weird that the leaves have not changed or fallen yet!

  3. Gosh, what beautiful photos!! I sometimes miss the seasons in our tropical climate. We do get Spring weather where we live on the mountain and it can get pretty cold, but we don't get autumn leaves or snow obviously. :)

    Sounds like you had fun with your pumpkin cake/pie - not quite! ;)

  4. Huh, that sounds actually quite tasty! After all, the crust is always the best part :)
    Holy cow at the snow, out first batch is predicted for Friday.

  5. Yummy, can't get enough of all the pumpkin recipes! So jealous of all your snow! :)

  6. This looks so good! I just locve Pumpkin! How I haven't gotten sick of it, I'll never know??

  7. What a great dessert, Denise. I will definitely try this, it sounds wonderful!

  8. I cannot BELIEVE its snowing there! Holy cold, Batman! At least you've got this lovely vintage dessert to distract you :) It sounds amazing. And who cares if there's cake mix! That just means the 'yum' is that much easier to get to :) Buzzed!

  9. Thank you everyone, all your comments are so appreciated and they warm my heart (even if there is still snow on the ground here till this afternoon some time.) It was pretty warm here yesterday and the smow should be gone today. We are supposed to be back in the high 70's for the weekend. Good weather to gather all the broken branches :-( We had three trees badly damaged.Snow was pretty but deadly to trees all over town.

    I love pumpkin too and with all the recipes people are sharing I am having fun! I think part of it is that pumpkin tends to be seasonally enjoyed- lots in the fall but less the rest of the year. It makes it special. I good reason to enjoy more foods in their season.

  10. Sometimes shortcuts are okay. It is okay to use cake mix. Time is scarce! I keep asking the same question: Where is everyone getting canned pumpkin? There is quite literally a shortage in my area.

  11. Thanks for posting a comment !!

    Yes, we have had the pumpkin shortage here too. for the longest time, I could only find it at whole foods. But now my neighborhood grocer has limited supplies but at least we can get it. I keeping a few extra cans on hand for those days when I cannot find it anywhere! If it is still not at your local grocer, try whole foods or other kinds of organic/ health food stores.

  12. I remember a dessert like this! Thanks for the effort to recreate it. I'm sure I'll be sharing it with my family this holiday season... let's see if they like it as much as we do.

    Thanks for the FB friend add! Buzzed :)

  13. Holy molly you had this much snow already! Brrr... I thought 60F is cold. Haha. I love the pumpkin dessert. One day I need to make sweet pumpkin dish instead of just savory food...

  14. Thanks for posting Sandy! Good to see you here, Nami!We had snow but it melts pretty quickly and gets warm again. It was hard to imagine liking weather like this when I lived in SoCal but I do enjoy it most of the time. I still don't like cold but here in Fort Collins, CO I know there will be 300 or more sunny days a year and there are nice warm days even in February.
    Yes, you should try this pumpkin dessert. It is very easy to make and people really seem to love it.