Pumpkins are not just for Halloween…
The days are quickly getting shorter, the air is crispier and the shadows longer. It is time for comfort food, warming and heartening: soups, stews and pies. Pumpkins are in season and while they come up in shops mainly around the feast of All Hallows (or Halloween, of course), they are a gorgeous ingredient all year round, versatile and delicious.
I wanted to try and make a pumpkin cake, because I had never baked with pumpkin and I don’t really like the American type of pumpkin pies… this is an easy to follow recipe for a pumpkin torte which will delight adults and children way beyond the 31st of October.
Pairing the pumpkin to spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon adds a touch of festive flavour; using maple syrup gives the pumpkin a lovely caramelisation; the pecans provide a delightfully crunchy texture. I used golden caster sugar which gives a slightly more toffee edge to the cake and the apple adds healthy sweetness to the final result (as the refined sugar content is relatively low), and because I really like it.
Use a high speed blender (we used the Ninja vac blender) to ensure the pumpkin is really smooth, but if you prefer a slightly grainy texture, a less powerful mixer will do the trick.
- 350gr pumpkin, cubed (uncooked and peeled)
- 130gr self-rising flour
- 50gr maize flour
- 70gr golden caster sugar
- 2 free range medium size eggs
- 40gr extra virgin olive oil
- ½ sweet apple, grated (I used Cox)
- 40ml maple syrup
- 1-2 tbsp. of water
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. ground clove
- 5 cardamom pods
- ½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp. rum (optional)
- 1 tsp. lucuma powder (optional)
- 1 tsp. vanilla essence
- 10 pecans, roughly chopped
- A pinch of salt
- Icing sugar to finish
- 1 18/20cm baking tray, oiled and dusted in flour
- Pre-heat the oven at 160c. In a bowl, add the water, the maple syrup add the spices, mixing in the cubed pumpkin and ensure it is coated well. Place the cubes in a roasting tray and place in the oven for about 20-20 minutes, until soft and nicely caramelised, turning often to ensure an even coating. Once ready, let it cool down, remove the cardamom pods then place in a blender with the olive oil and any remaining roasting liquid and pulse until smooth. Turn the oven up to 200c.
- In a large bowl, beat the sugar with the egg yolks until light and fluffy then add the flours, the lucuma (if using) and the bicarbonate of soda, mixing well. Mix in the pumpkin puree and add the vanilla essence as well (and the rum, if using). In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to fluffy peaks and then, a spoon at the time, fold in the mixture taking care not to knock too much air out of the mixture. Grate the apple in the mixture and finally pour into the baking tray, previously oiled and dusted with flour. Top the mixture with the chopped pecans and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 200c then lower the temperature to 160c to continue cooking for around 30 minutes in total, until the cake is risen, golden brown on the surface and a skewer comes out dry when inserted.
- Cool on a wire rack and garnish with a layer of icing sugar. The garnish can be Halloween themed if desired; an orange flavoured cream cheese icing would work well too.
- Keeps in an air tight for up to three days.