Warm Pumpkin Pudding Cakes ~ this is an easy pumpkin recipe for those of you who love your dessert soft and squidgy ~ count me in! If you’re looking to branch out from pumpkin pie this holiday season, these light as air pumpkin soufflé cakes are just the ticket.
These individual desserts are a cross between a fluffy sponge cake, a pumpkin soufflé, and a pudding. Can we say yum??
Pumpkin pie is all well and good, but it can be dense and a little…boring. These warm pumpkin pudding cakes are inspired by my delicious Warm Lemon Pudding Cakes. I wasn’t quite sure my experiment would work, but I was thrilled with the results.
See how they bake up nice and puffy? That’s the water bath and the beaten eggs whites working together to create a light and airy texture. Sink your spoon into that fluffy pumpkin (the opposite of pumpkin pie, just saying) and when you get to the bottom of your cup you’ll be rewarded with a little bit of golden custard. These are just lovely and definitely worth your time this fall.
Why does this recipe use a water bath, and can I skip it?
Short answer? No.
- A water bath (or bain marie) is simply a method of baking where you place your baking dish in a larger pan and add boiling water to come up the sides of your dish about half way. You’ve probably done it with cheesecake.
- The main effect of a water bath is to even out the temperature around your food and to cook it more gently. It also adds moisture to the oven which is important for things like cheesecakes and custards, flans, and soufflés.
- Yes, it is necessary for this recipe, and believe me, I tried skipping it ~ I’m all for cutting unnecessary corners ~ but when I cooked these pudding cakes without the water bath they came out denser, and slightly over cooked. Lesson learned.
I chose to serve these with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and some toasty candied pecans. You could absolutely flavor that whipped cream with maple syrup, bourbon, or a bit of pumpkin spice if you like.
I love the combination of temps and textures here ~ cool creamy whipped cream, crunchy sweet pecans, and soft, warm pumpkin cake.
How to make quick candied pecans ~
The little bit of sweet crunch from the candied pecans really tops off these pumpkin puddings perfectly, here’s how to do it:
- You can candy pecan pieces, or halves. I used pieces for this dish.
- Put the pecans and a tablespoon of brown sugar into a skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar coats the pecans and caramelizes. Watch carefully so the nuts don’t burn, this doesn’t take long.
- Remove from the heat and let them cool. They’ll crunch up as they cool down.
Warm Pumpkin Pudding Cakes
For the pumpkin cakes
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 large eggs separated
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
For the topping
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1 tbsp raw or brown sugar
For the pumpkin cakes
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 6 (5-ounce) ramekins and place in a baking dish with high sides. Heat some water in a kettle or in a pot on the stovetop - you'll be partially filling the baking dish with hot water just before baking the cakes to make a bain marie.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy and fully combined.
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time, allowing each one to get fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom, and fold that into the mixture.
- Add the buttermilk and the canned pumpkin, and continue to mix until smooth and fully combined.
- In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or with clean electric beaters, whip the egg whites and the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture until no large lumps or streaks of whipped egg white remain.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins, filling them almost to the top.
- Add the hot water to the baking dish with the ramekins, you want the water to reach about half way up the sides of the ramekins. Note: It may be easiest to add the water to the pan once you've already placed it on your baking rack in the oven - that way you don't have to transfer the dish with the water and the ramekins in it.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until puffed up and golden, and not wobbly in the middle.
- Remove the ramekins from the water bath and set aside to cool. They will sink slightly.
For the topping
- In a skillet, toast the pecans with the sugar over medium heat until the pecans are toasted and the sugar melts and coats the pecans. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. They will get crunchier as they cool.
- Whip the heavy cream and the confectioner's sugar until soft peaks form. You can also leave the cream unsweetened, which is how I often do it.
- Add a dollop of whipped cream to the top of the pumpkin cakes (you can eat them warm or cooled), and top with the candied pecans.