Pumpkins are widely available in the UK around this time of year but they’re generally used for little more than making Jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween. To me they’re generally a bit of an also ran vegetable, as I can’t see why anyone would get excited about them.
I recall making a pumpkin soup once but when butternut squash is available year round I can’t say that I’m overcome with pumpkin joy as Autumn approaches. I’m also not a coffee drinker, so the frenzy surrounding the Pumpkin Spice Latte is also lost on me…
That being said I am a sucker for trying something that could claim to be seasonal and felt that maybe I should try and make something with the rich orange flesh rather than dismissing it as a rather pointless also-ran. As a lover of baked goods for me the obvious solution was either Pumpkin Pie or a Pumpkin-based cake – and the latter won the day as I knew it would travel a lot better to the office (which was necessary to save me sitting at home in my pyjamas scoffing the lot…).
This recipe has been inspired by many sources and I’ve taken what I think of as the best bits from each – trying to find the balance between the pumpkin and spice, so that both get a chance to be noticed. I think I’ve succeeded and the warming blanket of cinnamon-flecked frosting just makes it even more comforting than it would have been on its own.
I could be a pumpkin convert – though frankly I could be converted to anything that could be successfully baked into a cake, so that’s not really saying much!
The warming flavours of Autumn might not arrive as quickly as they would from a trip to your local coffee shop but when you’ve invested a bit of time and love into something it always tastes better, right?
- 250 ml Vegetable or Sunflower Oil
- 300 g Soft Light Brown Sugar
- 4 large Eggs
- 375 g Plain Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- 1½ tsp ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground Allspice
- ½ tsp ground Ginger
- 1 tsp freshly ground Nutmeg
- 1 can Pumpkin Puree (approx 420g)
- 150 g Full-fat Cream Cheese
- 50 g Unsalted Butter at room temperature
- 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 250 g Icing Sugar sifted
Start by pre-heating the oven to 180°C.
Spray a 25cm Bundt cake pan (or 20cm square cake tin if you don’t have a bundt pan) with non-stick baking spray – or grease it with oil and flour in the usual way. If you’re using a bundt pan you want to make sure you get into all the crevices to reduce the amount of mixture that sticks.
Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar and beat well with either a wooden spoon (if you’re feeling strong) or an electric beater.
You want to keep beating this mixture until it gets lighter in colour and slightly aerated. Then break in the eggs and beat further until well mixed.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Put around one third of the mixture in with the wet ingredients and stir well, but don’t beat it as you don’t want to overwork the flour.
Next add around half of the pumpkin and mix well. Alternate with flour, pumpkin, flour until everthing is well combined in the bowl.
Pour the batter into your prepared cake tin then put into the oven, on the middle shelf to cook. Depending on your oven it could take anywhere between 50 and 60 minutes for the cake to be cooked through, so start checking after about 40 but inserting a skewer and making sure it comes out clean.. My big oven is a little slow with cakes, so I tend to cook them for longer but would hate for your cake to burn.
Once you’re confident it’s cooked through (checking around the funnel if you have a bundt tin) remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes to cool down in the pan. It should shrink away from sides a little as it does so.
After 15 minutes turn the cake out of the tin and leave on the rack to cool completely – you may need to help it out with a small knife if you have an elaborate tin, but patience is key!
Put the cream cheese and butter into a large bowl and beat well until light and fluffy – you can also do this by hand, as with the cake, but mechanical assistance will make it a lot less arduous!
Sift in the icing flour and ground cinnamon into the bowl in stages, mixing it well each time, until you have a nice light frosting.
Adorn the cake as you see fit – you can be as artistic as you like!