Pumpkin cake – an idea for Thanksgiving

Are we the luckiest creatures on the planet? Us, humans? Mum?

I didn’t see it coming. How could I? Just a few minutes earlier his greatest concern was the flavour of the cough sirup. Although the pharmacist claimed that there is no alcohol in it I still blame the cough sirup! After I consoled myself, I asked a question back – which is the mighty weapon when you need one. “Why do you think we humans, could be the luckiest ones?”

“Because if we need water we just turn the tap on and if we need any food we go to the market. It’s not the same for animals, they have to find water and hunt for food…So, do you think we are the luckiest creatures on the planet? Mum?”

I don’t have all the answers, sometimes I am not even close to the answer but I know one thing – we are certainly lucky enough to be able to produce things and make ourselves and others happy. We are lucky to have each other in our lives and for that we should be thankful! Which brings me to the subject of this post.

I did a little research and I found out that Thanksgiving comes to Canada first! I also consulted my husband’s family (the part that live in Canada), to confirm that pumpkin pie is the dessert for that occasion. I was all set for the project. But while I was organising my thoughts on pumpkin pie, this cake was coming back to me over and over again. One learns very fast that ignoring a food urge makes no sense at all. It will find its way to the kitchen and our dinner table anyway! Therefore one should embrace new ideas and go for it.

So, this is not going to be a post about a pumpkin pie. That post will need to wait some other Thanksgiving still to come. Instead we are indulging ourselves with this gorgeous pumpkin cake. I have to say the inspiration came from this carrot cake I made some time ago. I simply love that cake batter and I knew it’d go nicely with pumpkin.

I wonder if we can count this as an Thanksgiving treat? If not, well it is simple a treat, no reason needed.

Pumpkin cake

6 eggs

250 gr sugar

250 ml vegetable oil

300 gr plain flour

120 gr oats

80 gr raisins

1 1/2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 vanilla pod

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

For the icing:

200 gr butter (room temperature)

500 gr cream cheese

200 gr icing sugar

zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line with baking paper three 6″ round baking tins.

Separate egg yolk from egg whites. Whisk egg yolks with sugar for a few minutes until the batter beomes light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of mixer and add oil slowly to it.

Mix the flours with the sea salt and baking powder. Fold into the egg mixture.

Grate pumpkin and add to the flour and egg mixture. Scrape vanilla pod and add to the mixture (or use 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste). Chop raisins and add them to the flour mix as well. Mix until all is combined.

In a separate bowl mix egg whites (with a pinch of salt) until soft peaks form and add to the cake batter,  stirring gently with spatula.

Separate cake batter into three portions (just over 500 gr each). Pour into the baking tins and bake all three cakes at the same time for 40-45 minutes.

Leave on the cooling rack until is cooled completely before assembling.

For the icing, you need to whisk soft butter with icing sugar for 3-4 minutes. Add creme cheese, lemon zest, cardamom if using and whisk until it’s very creamy.

Assembling the cake:

This cake bakes nice and evenly but just in case you need to trim the cake so it’s level, do it before adding frosting.

Place one of the three cakes on the cake plate. Add one full spoon of the frosting and spread with a spatula evenly. Place the second cake on the top and do the same with the frosting. On the third cake add twice the amount of the frosting and spread evenly. Frost the whole cake with the rest of the icing. Decorate the way you like. Enjoy!

Sourdough and caramelised plums as a perfect union

Many years ago we went to a Paco de Lucia concert. We were well prepared as we knew that he was a magician more than a musician, but what followed was more than we expected. The concert started with an exquisite group of musicians and it sounded like the Earth stopped so we could all listen just the music and nothing else. I was enchanted from the first note that travelled through the concert hall. The magic started instantly. I could not have imagined that any music could sound better than that. It became immediately one of the best performances ever!

Then, while we were all spellbound by the music that was presented to us – something truly magical happened. In the beginning I wasn’t sure what it was. It didn’t really sound like music – it was so much more! It was like all the universe stopped so we could hear only that and nothing else. That was Paco de Lucia performing! I could see a person playing a guitar but it was like my eyes were not compatible with my ears, and what I could see didn’t match what I could hear! Truly a single person with a guitar cannot give us as much pleasure. I was wrong, that was exactly what happened.

Now, even though you might be used to me telling a story that has nothing to do with food, and then somehow making a connection, I have to say that I was quite surprised when all these memories flashed back the moment I had a bite of the sourdough bread I bought for the first time just a few weeks ago. The time frame is important as I live just a few meters down the road from one of the shops where this bread is delivered every morning. All these years I didn’t know that this sourdough existed.

I might have continued to be ignorant of this fact if one of our friends didn’t came over one day with a granola that tasted so much more than granola! I instantly checked the label on the bag and that’s how I was introduced to the Irrewarra sourdough family business that bakes one of the most delicious breads ever! (Just to make things clear, this is not a sponsored post, this is just me being madly in love with this bread, and sharing this new knowledge with you, so you don’t waist your time as I did!)

This bread is now present in our household all the time. For some reason I’ve decided this time to add to its glory the caramelised damson plums from a local market (another hunt of mine as those you cannot find in supermarkets). Together they taste so good that the Earth stops every time I make it –  so that I can indulge myself without thinking about anything else.

Caramelised plums on sourdough  

500gr of preferable plums

50 gr butter

2 tablespoon sugar

1 star anise

1 vanilla bean split open (1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste)

1 lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ginger spice

The reality is that you can modify this recipe and make your own preferred version. This one is just the one I make regularly at our place now. I have to say though that sometimes I replace butter with orange juice as it’s easier on the cholesterol level, and it makes me feel healthier .

Wash and dry plums, split in half and remove the pit. Melt butter with sugar in a pot on a medium heat. Caramelised doesn’t mean burnt, which is what is going to happen if you overheat your pot and that is not a pleasant thing to do as the smell and waste of ingredients will make you sad.

Once sugar is dissolved add star anise, cardamom, vanilla bean and ginger. If you want to intensify the aroma of spices then start with adding them first in a hot pot and then add butter and sugar.

Cook for a minute, then add the plums. Cook all together for about 2-3 minutes just to soften and caramelise the plums (that will depend on how ripe the fruit is).

Toast the slice of bread before arranging the caramelised plums, and then drench the bread with the aromatised juice in which the plums were cooked.

Enjoy!

Marble cake

Marble cake: “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Bake. How do you do? I am a Marble cake. There are other cakes around me but this is my moment and this space is dedicated to me. I am one of the most respectable cakes in the world – so don’t be surprised. Quite often I find my self in the first few pages of any recipe book. Remember recipe books, those marvellous collection of pages in which beauties like me have their history recorded. As a matter of fact the lady who is taking notes, has a few different versions of me in her own recipe book. That is how one starts a baking journey. You bake a cake like me and if it’s a good one you are on a successful road to becoming a wonderful baker. I might be a simple cake, but I am very beautiful in my simplicity. I am tough but my texture is crumbly. I am sweet but not too sweet. I like being served with a cup of tea but I am mixed with yoghurt. You can spread a thin layer of butter on a slice of me but I am baked with oil. I am white and I am black. Ladies and gentlemen I am Marble Cake”.

marble cake

 Me:”well I don’t really have anything to add. Marble cake has said it all”. Continue reading “Marble cake”