Monica Young is a fan of the dessert spread at the Alley Restaurant at the Aiea Bowling Alley. She asked for recipes for any or all of the Alley’s cakes: Pumpkin Crunch, Mama Miya Chocolate and Lemon Crunch.
So I asked chef Shane Masutani for whatever he could share. He came through with the Pumpkin Crunch, which I tried out on my family last weekend. It was consumed with gusto and much praise. (Now, don’t write asking for the other cake recipes. Let’s not be greedy.)
The Pumpkin Crunch is a simple baking project. After mixing the pumpkin filling, you sprinkle the top with yellow cake mix and nuts, then pour on some butter. OK, a lot of butter. Bake it, chill it, invert it and it’s a layered pumpkin-custard-nutty cake. Kind of magical.
There’s just one thing that might make some people crazy: When you’re done you’ll be left with a half cup of evaporated milk (from a 12-ounce can), 10 ounces of pumpkin purée (from the standard 29-ounce can) and lots of cake mix. You can probably deal with the pumpkin and milk (make muffins or cookies), but extra cake mix?
The solution: Increase the recipe by half and bake it in a 9-by-13-inch pan instead of the 9-inch round pan called for in Masutani’s recipe. Details are at the end. The quantities are not mathematically exact, but close enough.
The original recipe listed ingredients by weight. I’ve converted the amounts to cups and spoons, but weights are included for those who’d like to be precise.
Alley Restaurant Pumpkin Crunch
2-1/2 cups (1 pound 3 ounces) pumpkin purée
1 cup (8 ounces) evaporated milk
2 large eggs (3.2 ounces)
3/4 cup (5.4 ounces) sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Seeds scraped from 1/4 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
2 cups yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
10 tablespoons (6 ounces, or 1-1/4 sticks) melted butter
» Whipped cream topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
2 drops vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (or a convection oven to 325 degrees). Line bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment; grease sides.
Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and spices. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup cake mix, then nuts, then remaining cake mix. Pour butter over all. Bake 45 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is set and no longer jiggles.
Cool in pan, then refrigerate several hours.
To make topping: Beat whipping cream until fluffy; add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined (do not overbeat or solids and liquids in cream will separate).
To unmold pumpkin crunch: Loosen edges, then invert pan over a serving plate. Tap lightly to unmold (don’t tap too hard or you’ll damage the custard). Peel off parchment. Top with whipped cream and dust lightly with cinnamon.
Variation: To bake in a 9-by-13-inch pan, use a 29-ounce can of pumpkin purée, a 12-ounce can evaporated milk and a full box of cake mix. Increase all other ingredient quantities by 1/2. Increase baking time to 55 minutes.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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