By Carolyn Doyle
Crunchy, fruity (and sometimes chocolaty) – there are plenty of reasons why trail mix is a popular snack even outside of the wilderness hiking set.
But it’s difficult to serve. And as soon as you’ve dug into a tempting bowl at a party, you’re sure to hear a guest talking about how you wouldn’t believe some of the people who don’t wash their hands.
Sliceable trail mix seems the obvious solution. You can pick up a hunger-satisfying serving of this cake with ease, even if it’s just to sustain you on that long journey from the kitchen to the backyard hammock. And it’s easy to serve to even germ-phobic guests. Pumpkin adds moisture and nutrition to this recipe, which can be made with trail mix or your favorite combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruits.
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Sliceable Trail Mix
Makes 1 cake
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin (about half of a 15-ounce can)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ sticks butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 ¼ cups trail mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl cream butter with sugar; beat in eggs. Stir in pumpkin and vanilla. Add the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the trail mix. (Batter will be thick.)
Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan (I used my nonstick springform pan with the tube insert). Evenly distribute the batter, cover loosely with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil. Turn pan, return to oven and bake another 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue to bake up to 15 minutes more, until done (cake’s interior temperature should register close to 200 degrees). Remove from oven and cool in pan until mixture is firm to the touch.
Turn out and cool completely on a wire rack. Using a long serrated knife, cut into generous slices to serve.
Blaze your own trail…
Want to customize your cake? Instead of trail mix, use your favorite combo of fruit and whole or roughly chopped nuts. Mine included 1 2/3 cups lightly toasted nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts) and 1 ¼ cups dried fruit (black and golden raisins, cherries, dried sweetened cranberries and chopped dried apricots). I also added 1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips. Optional: a little freshly grated orange peel.
About that pumpkin…
Pumpkin adds moisture and a subtle orange hue to this cake. If you want to be reminded of pumpkin pie when you eat it, add ½ to 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice with the flour.