Pumpkin Cake Delight
When I was growing up, during the cold seasons, each mother, grandmother, aunt or whoever the household’s baker was, did the pumpkin squares on heavy rotation. For those of you who are not familiar with this type of dessert, it’s basically roast pumpkin flesh thrown together with some sugar and spread between two layers of sweet dough that is baked, after which cut into squares, sprinkled with icing sugar and served.
In our household, my grandmother made the pumpkin squares and everyone loved them; everyone except me, that is. I hated them. Not only did I dislike the moist texture and the smoky-sweet taste of the pulp that’s tucked between the two layers of soggy dough, but since they look exactly like apple squares, which I loved and still do, I took many a enthusiastic bite, only to discover with disappointment I was in fact sinking my teeth into pumpkin squares. The worst part was when she’d bake a batch of each, pumpkin and apple, and she’d throw them together on a serving plate and they were so frustratingly hard to tell apart, I usually gave up trying to guess which is which and just ended up not having any.
Years later, having yet to develop an affinity for pumpkin, someone offered me pumpkin cake. I remember thinking why would anyone want to tarnish the delicious idea of cake with something as repugnant as pumpkin? Though hesitant at first, I was persuaded to have a bite. I was dumbfounded. I felt as if though I had been kept in the dark all these years. I had no idea pumpkin could be so incredibly good. And ever since that late discovery, I too have been on a roll, October through February, every year; pumpkin has found its way in my salads, cakes and breads. I usually buy a few during high season, roast the flesh and freeze it in portions to be used for desserts. And right at the beginning of autumn, I like to simply roast pumpkin sections and drizzle some honey on top and sprinkle everything with walnuts, for a quick and healthy fix. I guess I’ve become quite the pumpkin lover after all.
This particular cake recipe I like because, as a carrot cake lover, I love a nice variation of that. And this cake does just that. It puts the sweetness and the moistness of the pumpkin to good use and the combination with the cream cheese frosting is perfect. Also, I have to admit the caramelized pumpkin seeds are the perfect addition. And even though it’s fairly easy to make, it’s a pretty enough cake to serve at dessert even at a fancier dinner party.
1 pumpkin, washed and halved
1 Tblsp coconut oil or butter, melted
Preheat oven to 180C/250F. Cut the cleaned pumpkin into quarters and place them rind down, in a baking dish. 45-60 minutes. Scrape off the flesh and whizz in a blender or food processor until smooth. If not using right away, bag in 250g/ 1 cup portions and store them in the freezer until ready to use.
1 tsp nutmeg powder
¼ tsp ground cloves
250g/1 cup puréed pumpkin
200 ml/1 cup sunflower oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature, separated
Cream Cheese Frosting:
120g/8 Tblsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g/8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
250g/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
To make the frosting, use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a handheld mixer and beat together the butter and the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth. Add the lemon zest and beat the frosting until incorporated.
For the Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds:
60g/½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
15g/1 Tblsp sugar
15g/1 Tblsp unsalted butter
In a small saucepan over medium heat, caramelize the sugar until it is turns golden-brown. Once the sugar has darkened, add the butter and stir quickly until it has melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the pumpkin seeds and stir to coat them in the sugar sauce. Transfer the seeds to a plate lined with baking paper until they’ve cooled and hardened.
Assembling the cake
When it is completely cool, top with the cream cheese frosting. Break up the caramelized pumpkin seeds with the aid of your hands and sprinkle them on top of the frosted cake. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from here