Excuse any typos in this post. I'm eating perhaps one of the tastiest, gooiest, and BOOZIEST cakes I've ever had in my life. Seriously, I think I might be buzzed after one slice! If you're looking for a great holiday dessert that will have people raving (and possibly a little tipsy), look no further than this recipe. In fact, most people probably won't even believe it's vegan!
Although this recipe is pretty easy to make, it does take at least a couple days to prepare it, so plan ahead. Most of the time-consuming parts of this recipe are macerating the raisins, baking time, and letting the cake chill overnight.
The raisins can be soaked overnight in the brandy, but I only soaked mine for about two hours and they were fine. Baking time probably differs for each oven (and unfortunately, I lost track of time after the first initial hour), but total baking time for me was anywhere from 1:15 to 1:30 hours. After an hour, check it every 10-15 minutes or so by making sure the center is no longer jiggly. However, I wouldn't worry about this cake burning, as the ingredients don't really allow for it.
The cake must be brought to room temperature (about 3-4 hours) before refrigerating it overnight. To serve it, rewarm it for a few minutes in the oven so it easily slides out of the pan.
This is VERY similar to rum cake. There's not a ton of pumpkin flavor (I think it just adds to the texture), but there certainly is LOTS of apple brandy flavor! It's strange how alcohol in baked goods acts: one bite is teeeming with it, enough to think you've just taken a shot; the next bite has none, and here you can taste the pumpkin and spices. Tricky thing, that alcohol.
The texture of this cake is probably what surprised me the most. It's thick and dense, ooey gooey, and super sticky. In fact, it's not very "cakey" at all, and is more like a non-eggy bread pudding. The raisins are plump and juicy, and there's just the right amount of itty-bitty pecan pieces. It's not even overly rich, thanks to the lack of dairy, but it is definitely a solid dessert, one that would go great with a hot cup of coffee. The alcohol in the cake warms you up inside (isn't this just perfect for a fall dessert?), and the warm cinnamon adds to that. Interestingly enough, there is also a bit of a cooling sensation from the cloves.
This can be served warm, at room temperature, or even slightly chilled. While pairing a slice with a hot beverage is one serving suggestion, I think a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be wonderful as well. And hey, any dish that combines dessert and booze is all right by me.
Pumpkin Pecan Pudding Cake
(adapted from The Washington Post, 11/1/06)