Pumpkin pie crunch cake is a dessert of mysterious origins. But, our inability to track down its history shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this perfect fall dessert, which tastes like a classic pumpkin pie sandwiched between two layers of shortbread, with crunchy pecan sprinkled over the top.
A Short History of Canned Pumpkin
All of our fall season favorite pumpkin desserts rely on a can of pumpkin for their pumpkin flavor. But, where do canned pumpkins come from? And who was Libby of Libby’s famous canned pumpkin? The story of canned pumpkin begins with a man named Elijah Dickinson, who was born in 1795 in Spotsylvania, Virginia. After fighting in the war of 1812, in around 1835, Dickinson packed up all of his worldly possessions and headed West — first to Kentucky, and then on to Eureka, Illinois. Rumor has it that he brought his favorite pumpkin seeds with him from Virginia, although it is equally possible that while working as a farmer in Kentucky, he developed the pumpkin that would later become known as the “Dickinson pumpkin.”
The Dickinson Pumpkin, unlike the one illustrated on the can, has grey-green flesh, with a very orange and sweet flesh. It proved to grow very well in Eureka, where there was a long, hot, growing season. Dickinson’s descendants developed a canning facility and began to can the pumpkin, along with a variety of other meats and vegetables. In the 1920s, the Dickinson family sold the plant to a company known as Libby, McNeil, and Libby. The company’s name was eventually shortened to Libby’s. In the 1950s, Libby’s, like so many other food manufacturers, began to develop recipes to print on the back of its product to help develop the market. And so, Libby’s famous pumpkin pie was born, and pumpkin fans rejoiced.
In the 1970s, Nestle purchased Libby’s. Libby’s continues to both grow and can 80% of the world’s canned pumpkin. During the growing season, pumpkins are tested frequently for flavor as they are canned by…what else? Turning them into pumpkin pie.
Love pumpkin? So do we! Here are a few more of our favorite pumpkin recipes.
Useful Tools for Making this Recipe for Pumpkin Pie Crunch Cake
A Recipe for Pumpkin Pie Crunch Cake From Scratch
- 9 x 13 inch baking pan
- parchment paper
For the cake
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup butter salted, at room temperature
For the filling:
- 1 can solid pack pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- First, make the cake: In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cake flour, sugar, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon). Add the butter and stir to combine until large crumbles form.
- Press half of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Set the other half aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and evaporated milk. Stir to thoroughly combine.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture over the cake batter.
- Crumble the remaining cake batter over the top of the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top.
- Bake in preheated oven 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool before removing from pan and slicing into roughly 3 x 3 inch squares.
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