March 14, 2006 2:19 AM | By Adam Roberts | 10 Comments

Big Love Baking: Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Last night was not only the season premiere of The Sopranos, it was the series premiere of "Big Love"--a new show starring Bill Pullman Bill Paxton Bill Pullman Bill Paxton (which one is it? Help!) about a man with three wives. I found this show deeply compelling because, like the main character, I too, have three wives. Here they are with pumpkin bars that they kindly baked for me the other night, as good wives do:


That's Lisa, Diana and Annette or, as I like to call them: Wife #1, Wife #3 and Wife #2. They say too many cooks spoil the soup, but too many wives? They don't spoil the pumpkin bars.

The wives chose a recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook ("More From Magnolia") which they found empowering because of the line they refused to stand on the other day outside the store (see two posts down). This recipe for Pumpkin Bars excited the wives because we already had pumpkin on hand and none of the ingredients were exotic. You and your wives can make it too. Here's what you need.

For the bars:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil (preferably Canola)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (see note)

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
3 Tbs unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
3/4 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (see Note)

NOTE: To toast the pecans, place on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.

Got all that?

Now to begin:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and lightly flour a 13 X 9 inch baking pan.

3. To make the bars: in a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

The wives, however, feel that this spice mixture is not enough. Here they are deciding what more to add:

Once they've decided, they add their additional spices:

4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Wife #2 has a strong feeling about her contribution:

Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir in the pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

6. Make icing:
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate icing 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.

7. Ice the top of the cooled cake with the cream cheese icing. Garnish with pecans and desired.

Cut up and share with your wives, except wife #3 because she's punished:


Ahhh, isn't polygamy great? Maybe I'll get a fourth wife who can make me pancakes. I wonder if Aunt Jemima is single?


These look delicious! Props to you and your three wives. By the way, Sopranos rocked and I think I will like Big Love (with Bill Paxton) as the season progresses.

Best Bill Paxton/Pullman movie role ever?? Chet in Wierd Science! Strange crossover between Big Love and Wierd Science - 3wives/1husband, 2dorky creators/1barbie like model..... I wonder if they would all like some delicious AG pumpkin bars. Answer - yes!

I think you should incorporate more of your '3 wives' in future videos. They're hysterical!

I'll be your fourth wife! Where do I apply?

I can't watch the videos at work. (insert all the mean things you can say about people who read blogs during their lunch breaks)

I miss the days of photo bloggin :*(

Although I cannot see why anyone would want three wives (isn't one enough!!) I enjoyed the show. As I watched that show I realized he does not utilize the three wives like he should. If one of them is giving him grief, he should just get up and leave and go to another one of the wives' houses. He is not using polygamy to his advantage.

Oh yeah, the pumpkin bars look killer.

"Pullman or Paxton?" is my favorite Jeopardy category of all time. Just thought I'd share.

What a fun post! A 4th wife? I just heard that the king of Iran had 1600 wives. How about that? Fed until you die! ;-)

Hey, You know what? I want 3 husbands. I only have one. He makes wine, which is a good start. But now I want one to make olives from our olive trees. And I want another one to make me fabulous desserts.

I guess I'll go have another glass of wine now....hic!

In photos, Lisa always looks so happy but in the video, she doesn't seem pleased to share you with the other wives.

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