Proof Bakeshop serves pumpkin spice as it should be
When fall rolls around, the craving for everything pumpkin spice is almost instinctual. It’s something in the crisp air, the changing leaves and the slow emergence of Halloween decor that makes you long for what’s perhaps the year’s most comforting and nostalgic flavor profile.
Of course, Starbucks reigns supreme when it comes to capitalizing on our autumnal lust for pumpkin spice, now an internationally recognized symbol of being “basic.” But long before there was a signature latte in the hands of fanatics everywhere, the flavors of pumpkin and fall spices were utilized right where they belong: in baked goods of all varieties.
At Proof Bakeshop in Inman Park, the innovative team of skilled bakers pride themselves on tying their menu to seasonality. And in October, naturally, they’re not shy about their use of cinnamon, spice and all things pumpkin-y and nice.
Proof’s pastry chef, Carey Bell, has loved the dynamic duo of pumpkin and spice since childhood, when she’d bake while standing on a stool next to her mother and grandmothers. Her time baking as a young girl serves as inspiration for her work now. “Warm spices like nutmeg, clove and cinnamon inspire me the most,” says Bell. “The subtle spice and warmth they add to pies, cakes and cookies reminds me of my childhood and being home with family.”
To this day, fall is Bell’s favorite season for baking. “It’s all about sharing your baked goods with family and friends, and that’s my favorite thing to do,” she says. “I would rather bake for someone else, which is my job.”
Bell admits that even she has her own pumpkin-spiced guilty pleasure. She tried the ubiquitous Starbucks offering once and was surprised to learn she didn’t like it at all. Instead, she makes her Nana’s pumpkin bread (sold at Proof in the form of miniature Bundt cakes), but she has a very particular way of indulging in this treat. “The top of it is my favorite. The bottom and sides, I don’t care about that,” she says. “I could eat the top off of the pumpkin bread all day long.”
And it’s easy to understand why: The flavors bring out the best in each other and leave a lasting feeling of satisfaction. “I think it’s just the warmth of the spices along with that subtle pumpkin flavor. It relaxes you and makes you feel like home and comforted. It just makes you feel cheerful!”
Pop into Proof to get your fix with everything from pumpkin bread mini Bundts to pumpkin whoopie pies, or try your hand at the whoopie pies at home.
100 Hurt St N.E.,
PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES WITH SPICED CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
1 stick soft butter
1 c. granulated sugar
¼ c. dark brown sugar
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. soft butter
½ tsp. vanilla
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350F. Whisk flour, leavening, spices and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugars in a mixer bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla gradually. Add pumpkin and mix until combined. Add all dry ingredients and mix just until no flour remains. Use a medium sized cookie scoop and drop batter onto a parchment lined sheet tray. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan and bake for about 5 minutes more or until they spring back in the centers.
For the cream cheese filling: Beat the butter and cream cheese until combined and no lumps remain. Add the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Beat until light and fluffy.
To finish, take the cooled cakes, scoop a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese filling and sandwich them together, flat sides facing each other. These whoopie pies can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days. But they won’t last long!
STORY AND PHOTO: Jodi Cash