When I brought my own birthday cake to work and cakes for subsequent celebrations, I had crowned myself the birthday chair or social chair or whatever title meant I celebrated coworkers’ birthdays. If anyone else had hired me for the position I had created, they would have fired me by summertime. I had dropped the cake in a big way!
The main reason I dropped the cake was my move from a “no rent” special into a “handyman” special. My first birthday cake excuses stemmed from the stress of having to move when I hadn’t been planning on moving. The following weeks of excuses stemmed from packing my life into boxes, over relying on the carpenter to help me transport those boxes along with large furniture and appliances (thank you! thank you! thank you!) and then putting all that packed up life aside in an effort to “handyman” my new apartment.
If I wasn’t chipping away paint, I was applying new paint. I surprised myself with my ability to come home from work, don a bandanna, put on some music and paint until I could no longer see clearly. At that time, the kitchen was filled with more paint brushes than useful baking tools, and I really longed for the day when I could come home and bake a cake instead of shop-vac a floor. As timing would have it, my return to baking happened somewhere in between shop-vaccing and my final dream kitchen. The continuation of The QT Pi(e) Project put baking deadlines in my world, and it was time to scrounge up the pie pans and tools.
Yet, I still managed to miss birthday commemorations. It wasn’t until October that I pulled my act together and returned to my rightful throne with a big ol’ helping of humble pie… or in this case, pumpkin cheesecake! Please forgive me, belated birthdays!
I made an extra pie because one of my best friends in the world was coming to visit around the same time, and she deserved a special treat for meeting our other best girl and me in the steel town.
Makes one springform pan for bygone birthdays and one 9” pie pan for a deserving friend.
20 organic honey graham crackers
6 Tbs olive oil
6 Tbs pure maple syrup
2 Tbs vanilla
6 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, very soft
1 cups pure cane sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup
6 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 Tbs nutmeg
1 Tbs ginger
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 large local, free-range eggs, at room temperature
For the Crust
Using a food processor, grind crackers to fine crumbs.
Add oil and maple syrup and pulse until combined.
Press crumbs into oiled pans.
Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside.
For the Filling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center.
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and maple syrup on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix).
Add pumpkin puree, spices, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.
Pour filling into the prepared crusts, and gently smooth top.
Pour maple syrup into the center of each and swirl with a knife to create a surface design.
Transfer to oven and reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake 45 minutes.
Turn off oven and let cheesecake stay in the oven for 2 hours more (without opening).
Remove from oven; cool completely.
Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.
Garnish with pecans.