I posted a link to this recipe two years ago now, but it was so easy and good (and it's currently so timely) that I thought I'd post the recipe itself here too. It combines the sweet, firm base of a yellow cake with the spicy smoothness of pumpkin pie, plus the pecans for crunch, and makes a great alternative to the traditional pie.
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter or margarine, at room temperature
4 large eggs
2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, chilled
1 cup chopped pecans
Whipped cream for garnish
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.
Measure out 1 cup of the cake mix and reserve for the topping. Place the remaining cake mix, the butter, and 1 egg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 1 minute. Using your fingertips, press the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan so that it reaches the sides of the pan. Set the pan aside.
For the filling, place the pumpkin, evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, remaining 3 eggs, and cinnamon in the same large mixing bowl used to prepare the batter and with the same beaters (no need to clean either). Blend on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture lightens in color and texture, 1 to 2 minutes more. Pour the filling over the crust in the pan, spreading to the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. Set the pan aside.
For the topping, place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the chilled butter, and the reserved cake mix in a clean medium-size mixing bowl. Rinse and dry the beaters. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined and crumbly, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stop the machine and stir in the pecans. Use your fingers to thoroughly knead the pecans into the topping mixture. Distribute the topping evenly over the filling mixture. Place the pan in the oven.
Bake the cake until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the pan and the pecans on top have browned, 70 to 75 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack, 20 minutes. Cut the cake into squares and serve with whipped cream on top. Store covered in aluminum foil or plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Yield: 18 - 20 servings.