Forget pumpkin pie— just in time for Thanksgiving, Chef Mark McEwan samples some of Toronto’s best pumpkin cakes.
The Rolling Pin
Co-owners of The Rolling Pin, Vanessa Baudanza and Isabelle Loiacono, love experimenting with chocolate and pumpkin flavours around this time of year and used Isabelle’s grandmother’s pumpkin cake recipe from the 1960s to come up with the winning cake. “This is an underrated combo, and when we pair the old pumpkin cake recipe with our signature fudge frosting, it’s fun and funky,” says Baudanza of The Rolling Pin. “The end result is flavours and spices that are simple yet nostalgic.”
“This is a very tasty cake that’s moist and light, and the chocolate frosting is delicious,” adds Mark.
Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts
Tied for first place is Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts with their winning pumpkin spice cake, which is made in-house, from scratch. “This cake is layered with our coffee buttercream and covered in a tangy cream cheese buttercream,” say co-owners of Ginger’s Desserts Anna Herd and Amanda Spiteri. The cake is decorated with house-made pumpkin seed brittle and buttercream pumpkins.
“This is the most festive and traditional tasting cake out of them all,” says Mark. “I can bring this to any holiday party and it would be a hit.”
Bunner’s Bake Shop
From Bunner’s Bake Shop, McEwan sampled the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. The cake features the bakery’s signature pumpkin pie filling swirled deep into a creamy vanilla cheesecake, all on top of a double-thick warm and spicy cookie crumble base. “This vegan cake has a delicious, spiced cookie base,” says Mark. “The texture could have been a bit smoother and could use a little bit more pumpkin flavour.”
www.bunners.ca, $30.95 (6”)
On the fall menu from Phipps Bakery, McEwan sampled the bakery’s signature Pumpkin Bundt Cake. It’s a moist pumpkin cake topped with maple frosting and cinnamon-spiced pumpkin seeds, for an added crunch. “This cake is mild and not overly sweet,” says Mark. “It is spiced very nicely, and it doesn’t overpower your palate.”
phippsbakerycafe.ca, $21.99 (one size)
The Sweet Escape
The Pumpkin Spice Cake from The Sweet Escape scored points with a recipe featuring real pieces of pumpkin, pie spices, brown butter cream cheese frosting, and beautifully decorated with pumpkin seed brittle. “This cake is very tasty and creamy! It reminds me of a cream cheese frosting. A nice frosting to cake ratio.”
thesweetescapedistillery.com, $42 to $125 (6” to 12”)
Available by the slice only, this Pumpkin Chiffon Cake by Roselle Desserts is the perfect companion for your latte or afternoon snack. “This cake takes me back to having a sweet treat with my morning coffee,” says Mark. I appreciate the simplicity of this dessert.”
www.roselleto.com, $4.50 (slice)
About Chef Mark McEwan
Mark McEwan is the veteran chef behind Bymark, Fabbrica and McEwan Fine Foods. He’s also the author of bestselling cookbooks and serves as head judge on Food Network’s hit series, Top Chef.