This super moist easy autumn cake starts as a recipe of nothing but cake mix and a can of pumpkin and is improved on with the flavors of pecan and toasted sage.
I'll start by saying that if you aren't a fan of sage, that has no merit when it comes to how you'll feel about this cake. I am no fan of fresh sage. Fried sage, however, has a mild and nutty flavor. To compare fresh to fried sage is like chewing on a raw pumpkin seed compared to a toasted pumpkin seed. Or eating a raw clove of garlic compared to roasted garlic. Totally different flavors there.
On top of this cake, the sage gives a salty and toasty little crunch that goes perfectly with the autumnal flavors of pumpkin and pecan.
Frying sage takes about 5 seconds and has totally changed the way I see the herb. I used to loathe it and now I plant it in my garden!
The leaves pictured here are home grown and about 4 or 5 inches across. I have found there is no flavor difference between the big old leaves and the little store bought kind. If you use store bought for this recipe, buy lots -you'll need a whole cup!
I first heard of this cake recipe from my friend Dawn. It really is nothing but a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin puree! My imagination immediately went wild. I'll definitely be playing off this idea for a while!
You will need:
One box of lemon cake mix
One 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup milk
5 ounces pecans, chopped fine in a food processor
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or more to taste
2 sticks butter, softened
1/3 cup honey
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Sage that has been stacked, sliced thinly and fills a cup tightly packed
For the cake:
In a bowl, using a wooden spoon stir together cake mix, pumpkin, cinnamon, pecans and milk. Bake in greased cake pans as directed on the box (or until the sides begin to brown and pull away from the pan and a skewer comes out clean). Cool completely before frosting.
For the fried sage:
Heat 1/2 inch oil over heat a couple notches over medium in a deep skillet. When hot, add all of your shredded sage. It will bubble violently for a few seconds. It's done when the noise dies down and there are a few bubbles here and there around the pan. Remove the crispy leaves to paper towels (I use a metal spatula or a little mesh basket) and salt lightly. The fried leaves will stay crispy for a long while. For other recipes or a treat, place whole leaves or even stems full of leaves into the oil and follow the same process, removing them once the noise dies down. This takes about 5 seconds.
For the frosting:
Mix together butter and honey until smooth. Add powdered sugar and mix on medium for several minutes until it's really smooth. Add 2/3 of your fried sage leaves and mix on high for a minute or two.
Assemble your cake with frosting and sprinkle the remaining sage leaves on the top of the cake.
Store your cake covered in the fridge.