Thanksgiving Celebration Cakes plus Pressure Canning Pumpkin or Winter Squash

By Terri Rozema

What pies are on your family’s Thanksgiving table? Are they the usual apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan? Why not change it up? After all, variety is the spice of life and cake reminds us of celebrations.

This celebration cake is packed with fruits, dried vegetables, healthy fats, and spices. It is similar in texture to carrot cake yet tastes like Thanksgiving. Due to the moistness, mini cake and muffin pans are used, as a standard-sized cake would crumble too easily during the filling and frosting stage. Mini cakes and cupcakes are festively fun and small enough to sample other desserts without feeling overindulgent. (Like that's not going to happen on Thanksgiving 🦃.)

I have plenty of canned pie pumpkin in my larder, so that is what I have used. If you are interested in learning how to preserve pumpkin (or winter squash), directions are below the recipe. Too many pots on the stove right now? Don’t fret. All you need is a couple of sugar pie pumpkins, some fat and an oven to make your own fresh puree.


Celebration Mini Cakes and Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yields roughly two mini cakes and 12 cupcakes


You will need:

  • 2 mini cake pans and 2 muffin pans (6 ct. each) greased and lightly floured
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree home-canned or *fresh (see note after directions)
  • 3/4 cup melted organic coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup leaf lard (or raw butter) melted
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 large pastured eggs
  • 3 cups organic cane sugar
  • 3 1/3 cup organic all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or (1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg & 1 tsp. ground cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Dr. Cowan’s Garden Parsnip Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Dr. Cowan’s Garden Winter Squash Powder



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour the mini cake and muffin pans.
  3. In a medium bowl combine pumpkin, melted coconut oil, lard, water, eggs, and raisins.
  4. In a large bowl combine sifted flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, spices, parsnip, and winter squash powder.
  5. Make a large hole in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients inside. Stir just to combine. Do not over-mix.
  6. Scoop batter into mini cake pans and muffin tins (about 3/4 to 4/5 full.)
  7. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, remove it from the oven.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then gently remove from pan and let cool completely on wire racks. Frost when completely cooled.

*How to Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cut the top off of the pumpkin(s)
  • Scoop out the seeds (save for roasting later)
  • Cut in half
  • Lightly oil or butter the flesh side
  • Place flesh side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet
  • Roast for 45 minutes to an hour or until the inside is soft
  • Remove from oven and cool
  • Separate the skin from the flesh, either using a food processor or a food mill, puree until smooth

Cream Cheese Frosting

You will need:

  • A piping bag with a medium round tip or a gallon-sized Ziplock bag
  • 16 ounces organic cream cheese (two packages)
  • 2 sticks organic butter - room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 2 tsp. vanilla paste (or extract)
  • Dr. Cowan’s Garden Three-Beet Powder (optional)


  1. Using a stand mixer or hand blender, cream together cheese and butter.
  2. Once well combined, carefully add powdered sugar. Cream for a minute or two.
  3. Add the vanilla paste, cream for another minute or so.
  4. Leave at room temperature for desired frosting/piping consistency.

To Frost Inside and Top:

  1. Slice the mini cakes/cupcakes just under the muffin top. Gently pull apart.
  2. Use a piping bag, or create your own piping bag (see next step).
  • With a gallon Ziplock bag, fold half of the bag down (outward)
  • Scoop the icing into the bag
  • Unfold the bag and work the icing into one of the bottom two corners.
  • Twist the top half of the bag until it is taut.
  • Snip a very small tip off the corner of the bag.
  • Use your hand to squeeze the icing out of the bag in steady strokes.
  1. Starting from the center, using a circular pattern, gently squeeze the frosting onto the top of the bottom half of the cup/mini cakes
  2. Place the top over the frosted bottom half.
  3. Using the same technique, frost the top of the cup/mini cake.
  4. Sprinkle the frosting with Dr. Cowan’s Garden Three-Beet Powder.


Time to Celebrate!


Pressure Canning Pumpkin and/or Winter Squash

Yields roughly 7 Quarts

You will need:

  • Pressure canner
  • Canning jar lifter
  • Wide-mouth funnel
  • Lid lifter
  • Canning bubble popper
  • Ball wide-mouth quart jars with lids and bands
  • 18 pounds of pumpkin or winter squash


Prepare the Pressure Canner:

  • Fill the canner with water to a couple of inches above the jar rack (on the bottom). See your pressure canner directions for precise set-up.
  • Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar (helps inhibit hard water stains).
  • Place on stove, and heat water to a simmer, covered but not locked.

Sterilize Jars and Lids

  • Sterilize jars, minus lids, by placing them on a protected cookie sheet, I use a Silpat. Place in an oven at 220 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes; keep hot.
  • Sterilize lids by heating them in barely simmering water for 5 minutes; keep warm.


  1. Place a large and medium stockpot on the stove on medium-high, fill about 2/3 with water, and bring to a boil. Keep at a hearty simmer.
  2. Wash pumpkin or squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds (save for roasting later).
  3. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, remove the rind/skin. Cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes.
  4. Add pumpkin/squash to the large stockpot and bring to boil for no longer than 2 minutes.
  5. Drain and discard the liquid.
  6. Use a wide-mouth funnel, pack hot pumpkin/squash into hot jars, ladling fresh boiling water to cover, leaving about an inch headspace.
  7. Remove air bubbles by sliding bubble remover along the inside of the jar between the glass and the pumpkin/squash. Add more water if needed; wipe the rim.
  8. Using a lid lifter, center lid on jar and screw band down until met with resistance.
  9. Place jars in canner, lock the lid, and bring to a boil on medium-high.
  10. Vent steam for 10 minutes then close the vent.
  11. Keep heating until you reach the pressure indicated for your altitude (see chart below.)
  12. Process pint jars for 55 minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes.
  13. Turn off heat and let pressure return to zero. Open vent, remove the lid.
  14. Wait 10 minutes then remove jars, place on a towel in a draft-free area for 24 hours.
  15. Check lids for a complete seal, label, and store.


Low-Acid Altitude Chart

Altitude Feet             Weighted Gauge             Dial Gauge

0-1000                       10                                    11

1,001 - 2,000             15                                     11

2,001 - 4,000             15                                    12

4,001 - 6,000             15                                    13

6,001 - 8,000             15                                    14

8,001 - 10,000           14                                     15