Pumpkin Cake

In the run-up to Halloween I am usually tempted to buy a pumpkin to make a lantern. This raises the question of: what to do with the flesh?

I love pumpkin pie but with all that needing dried peas to bake a short-crust pastry container... well it's a little too much messing about for me. So this year (2014) I thought I'd have a go at pumpkin bread instead... but it kinda turned into Pumpkin Cake.

Spooky Halloween Pumpkin Cake... before it all mysteriously disappeared!

An 8" diameter pumpkin (a good size for a lantern with a tea-light in it) yields about 500g of flesh.

NOTE that most recipes involving pumpkinds tell you to discard the seeds and stringy stuff... which seems totally stupid to me. I separate the seeds from the stingy stuff and dry them in the oven for use later... if I can resist just picking at them until they are all eaten. They are delicious; do NOT discard them.

Other Ingredients (Besides Pumpkin)

As usual, your average recipe on the web calls for a pinch of this and a dash of that. Mine is cut to the bone... but explained so you can figure out your own and add stuff if you want to.

The basics, in addition to the 500g of pumpkin flesh, are:

~450g sweet stuff (see method)
~700g self-raising flour
2 eggs

Theory & Practice

The first step is to turn the flesh into a purée. This is done in the oven using a covered container; to stop it drying out. I use a Pyrex dish with foil over the top (because I broke the lid years ago). Something like 3/4 of an hour at 200°C should result in a goo you can very easily mash with a fork.

I ended up with 450g of purée and most recipes seem to call for an equivalent weight of some form of sugar. I had a tin of golden syrup that was starting to crystallize so I added that and topped it up to 450g with brown sugar. More interestingly flavoured sugars = more interesting cake.

Next we add flour (about 1.5 times the weight we had of purée) and a couple of eggs. The flour is to thicken and bulk it out while the eggs are to hold it all together when cooked. It needs to rise, so had I not used self-raising flour I'd have added baking soda. Add enough flour to make a mixture thick enough for a spoon to stand up in, but runny enough to pour/slop into a lined baking tin.

First however, additional flavours:

I've seen recipes where they add nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, orange zest... so we're looking for spicy flavours. Whatever you like / have in. I added a teaspoon of cinnamon (I love cinnamon so always have it in), plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt to boost flavours.

After pouring into a lined, 9" square baking tin I sprinkled some of the roasted seeds onto the top with a light sprinkling of brown sugar over that. Into the oven at 175°C until a knife comes out clean (about an hour). Job done. :-)