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Pumpkin Cake

From the 75th Anniversary Saginaw Fair cookbook


For the cake:

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 cups pumpkin

1 cup oil

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cloves

Mix well the sugar, eggs, pumpkin oil, oil, and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients together and add to first mixture; mix well. Bake in greased and floured 15X10X1 inch baking pan at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

For the Frosting:

3 oz. cream cheese, softened

6 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

Blend cheese, butter, milk and vanilla; add confectioners' sugar. Spread on cake and sprinkle with nuts, if desired.

Test Kitchen Notes: I didn't have a 15X10X1 inch pan, so I opted to use two 6" rounds. The batter ended up being a perfect amount for the 6" pans, and I figured I would need about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of frosting, so I doubled the frosting recipe. Also, the recipe did not state whether to use salted or unsalted butter, so I assumed that it meant unsalted. I ended up using half the amount of confectioners' sugar because I prefer a less sweet frosting. I highly recommend tasting as you go with the amount of sugar. I used a stand mixer and let the cream cheese, butter, milk, and frosting on high for about 5 minutes until it doubled in volume.


This week’s recipe is from Prize Winning Recipes: A Cookbook of Prize Winning Recipes from Previous Saginaw Fairs in Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Saginaw Fair, published in 1988

The Saginaw County Fair

“The pumpkin was adopted as symbolic of our Saginaw Fair sometime in the late 1920’s or early 30’s. Following for your enjoyment, are a few unique, delicious and ever popular recipes containing the increasing popular fruit - - namely the pumpkin.” A Cookbook of Prize Winning Recipes from Previous Saginaw Fairs in Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Saginaw Fair

Although fairs had been held in Saginaw County as early as the 1860s, by the early twentieth century Saginaw County was without one. In the early teens, the Saginaw County School and Farm Bureau Association organized a fair. The following year the Saginaw County Agricultural Society was formed, and their first fair opened on October 6, 1914. Located on the corner of East Genesee Avenue and Webber Street, this location was considered far out in the country, but was convenient to the transit lines.

When the fair started in 1914, it closed before sunset to provide ample time for farmers to get home to do their chores. Within a decade, the attraction of the electrically operated rides and lights on the midway encouraged longer hours and The Saginaw Daily News proclaimed, “that a fair without a night feature . . . is really hardly worth being classified as a county fair.” One of the photographs in the museum’s current exhibit, A Wider View of Saginaw: The Panoramic Views of the Goodridge Brothers captures an early 1920s Saginaw County Fair.

As time passed, the fairground’s location was no longer centrally located and convenient for Saginaw’s agricultural community. In 2001, the last fair was held at the East Genesee Avenue fairgrounds. The Saginaw County Agricultural Society acquired a new site on Peet Road in Chesaning and the first fair was held there in 2002.

And this brings us back to the long-time symbol of the fair, the pumpkin. For years the East Genesee Avenue entrance was marked by a giant sculpture of a pumpkin. When the fair moved to Chesaning, this representation of the main ingredient of this week’s recipe was moved to its new location.

After you make this cake – or before you make this cake, visit the Castle Museum to view A Wider View of Saginaw.

(While we do not have any blue ribbons, we encourage you to share images of your interpretation in the comment section of this post.)


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