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I should lie and say I love pumpkin spice cake and everything pumpkin flavored. Pumpkin flavored cocoa, creamery, egg nog, cookies, pie, cheesecake, bars, etc etc etc. Holy cow, everything seems to be pumpkin spice flavored or scented. EVERYTHING.
Be careful of going forward if you’re a member of the Pumpkin Flavored Cult.
I’m going to say something that is going to seem VERY blasphemous in our day and age and particularly during the holiday season. Look away, if you worship all things pumpkin.
My family does NOT like pumpkin flavored anything. We only got a couple of these cans by accident because my mother left them at our house when she was shopping for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. She said she didn’t want them back. I secretly think she left them on purpose. The conspiracies are strong around pumpkin flavored things.
Unwelcome house guest
We all stared at those cans on the counter for a few days before I finally decided to try something with them. Anything to get rid of the cans of pumpkin filling.
My oldest son loves pumpkin pie. This is so out of the ordinary for the rest of us, that I question if he was dropped off on the front stoop by a stork. He eyed those cans with a different glint in his eye.
I looked up some basic pumpkin spice cake recipes and this is what I came up with. You don’t need the frosting for the freeze drying.
1 Spice Cake mix
1 large can of pumpkin pie filling
That’s all. That is literally all that is in this cake.
How to prepare pumpkin spice cake for freeze drying
I mixed everything well with a hand mixer on low because of the thickness of the mix. This looks almost like a thick pudding when you’re done.
We greased a 9 x 13 inch glass pan with spray oil and then attempted to spread the thick cake mix into the pan. As you can see, it didn’t go in smoothly. This pumpkin spice cake mix fought me every step of the way.
Before you think this turns into a tragedy, let me tell you there is a plot twist.
All that effort was worth it.
Phew! Once I wrestled that thick mix into the pan, I threw the pan in the oven on 350 degrees Fahrenheit and sat down and ate a non-pumpkin flavored treat. Probably something chocolate. Something not holiday centered so no mint, but definitely lots of chocolate. Maybe even like Butterfinger or something. Not that I’m getting specific.
Getting rid of the mixture
I had to scrape the excess mixture off the beaters with a spatula. That was fun. *can you sense the sarcasm?* I have 6 kids. That should be enough to understand that I don’t have energy for the extra things when I want everything as easy as possible.
When I couldn’t get any more off the beaters, I held out the utensils and my oldest son licked them clean. Okay, whatever. I told you, I doubt he’s mine sometimes.
This cake was done when I stuck a butter knife into the middle and it came out clean. About 40 minutes – because of the density of the cake mix.
How do you prepare pumpkin spice cake for freeze drying?
So initially, I started cutting the cake into one inch by one inchish pieces. That was a CLUSTER. It was such a crumbly mess. I wanted to scream. I might have eaten a few of them. It was crazy. There was so much chaos. I’m not sure where pumpkin spice cake ended and I began.
After I failed at anything remotely neat and tidy, I switched to bars that were just over an inch wide and then three inches long. You can see in the picture below where I tried the smaller bites and they were just awful looking and where the bigger pieces look a lot better and were a lot easier to maneuver.
Before I put the cake into the freeze dryer, I was amazed at how moist the finished pumpkin spice cake was. While I expected a strong pumpkin flavor, I’m happy and more than a little surprised to share that the predominant flavor in this cake was spice. The pumpkin flavoring was so subtle, it would have been fine to serve as it was to my family and they never would have known it had the hated pumpkin in it.
While I’m talking tough, I actually really did like this cake after it was cooked. I was so surprised by the flavor that I offered a piece to all the kids and didn’t tell them what was in it. They all liked it and now they’re asking for pumpkin flavored stuff. Ugh, but also, hmmm now I want to try more (just no pie!).
Wow, look at that coloring. You can see there’s no moisture in these cake slices. They were very light in both color and weight. Their initial crumbling was controlled as well. The ground burger coloring changed like this too.
To Biscotti or not – that is the question
They reminded me of an untidy biscotti. I gave the small bite sized ones to the kids to try and they loved it. I even ended up giving some of the bars in the big size to them as well. The freeze drying process seemed to take away even more of the pumpkin flavor. By the time I put these into the Mylar bags, they tasted like spice cake cookies. I even went and bought more pumpkin pie filling. It was almost as embarrassing as when I buy imitation vanilla extra – I’m a baking snob. Let’s be honest.
How do I freeze dry Pumpkin Spice Cake?
Many people think it’s next to impossible to do the freeze drying for themselves. This is far from factual. Freeze drying at home is made easy by Harvest Right. They sell three different sizes of freeze-drying machines that do everything in the machine – except prep and package. That’s up to you.
For all intents and purposes, here at Freeze Drying Mama we use the medium sized freeze dryer. You can check out the sizes offered at Harvest Right here. What this machine does is first freeze the items on stainless steel trays to -41 degrees or lower. This takes about 10 hours or so. Then a vacuum pump turns on and creates a vacuum inside the drum. This is the drying stage and will vacillate the heat of the tray up and down to a pretty warm temperature. This makes the frozen items release any water in them in vapor form. The vacuum sucks the moisture to the drum and this collects in ice form on the inner circle of the drum. Then there’s the final dry which is essentially the same thing, but with a time associated with it.
How do I use freeze dried pumpkin spice cake?
We probably won’t reconstitute this with water to get the dessert to its normal consistency. That will just make it turn to mush. When we tried it, it didn’t work like we wanted.
So, we will use this type of cake or bar like a cookie or a biscotti. Dipping them into a tea, cocoa, or coffee will be the best way to eat these.
Do I pre-freeze pumpkin spice cake before freeze drying?
I waited until the cake cooled before cutting it and putting it on the trays. I didn’t pre-freeze the cake. The pans went into the freeze dryer on parchment paper lining the trays.
What settings do I use for freeze drying pumpkin spice cake?
On the Harvest Right freeze drier – this works on all sizes – after putting the trays inside the drum on the shelves, I put in the drum cover and then tightened the handle as I locked it shut. On the computer touch screen, I selected START > NON-LIQUID > NOT FROZEN > DONE. After inputting the settings and making sure my drain tube was closed, I walked away.
How long did freeze drying pumpkin spice cake take?
This batch took 17 hours start to finish.
How much did one batch of freeze dried pumpkin spice cake make?
I was able to fill 4 one gallon Mylar bags, like these ones. They used a 300 cc oxygen absorber pack that came with the bags I ordered.
How to use freeze dried pumpkin spice cake?
When we eat these, they will be best as a cookie or crumbled up as an ice cream topping. I wouldn’t recommend reconstituting them. If anything, I might dip them into milk or something, but again, treating it like a cookie will be the best way to consume these.
They would make a great gift during the holidays or added to a treat tray for a party. They would also make a great item to sell at a farmer’s market or something similar.