These spiced Pumpkin and Walnut cakes are deliciously autumnal. Top with Spider web icing for a Halloween treat. Gluten and dairy free.
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DON’T LOSE THIS RECIPE! PIN Pumpkin & Walnut Cakes FOR LATER…
Spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes for Halloween… (or not)
Spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes are perfect for Halloween. Full of seasonal flavour and topped with a cute spider web icing, they look fantastic on any spooky party table.
But they are also delicious at other times too. With pumpkin purée easily available in tins all year round, there’s nothing to stop us making pumpkin cakes not on Halloween. Right? Okay… The warming ginger and cinnamon spices may be particularly suited to the season (whether Halloween or Guy Fawkes), but change the decoration and there is no doubt the brain and taste buds would be equally happy.
At this time of year however, we have a different problem. And that is the travesty of wasted pumpkins. So… ANY recipe that helps us to use the flesh from pumpkin carving has to be good. And this one’s a keeper…
How many pumpkins do we waste?
Each year in the UK, an estimated 12+ million pumpkins are carved for Halloween but not eaten (Hubbub environmental charity). That is an incredible amount of food waste. Laid end to end, these uneaten pumpkins would likely stretch over two and a half thousand miles. The wasted pumpkin weighs a staggering 18,000 tonnes. And that’s just the UK.
It’s criminal. How can an intelligent, allegedly forward-thinking nation allow that much food waste on an annual basis purely in celebration of a festival?
Why we should LOVE eating pumpkin
Pumpkin is an amazing vegetable, full of great nutrition. Not only is it rich in vital antioxidants and vitamins, but it is also extremely low in calories, with no saturated fats or cholesterol and plenty of fibre. Even the seeds are good for you… They are packed with mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are great for heart health. Seriously… If you are a pumpkin thrower, it’s time to have a re-think.
Pumpkin is such a versatile squash. It can be dressed up as a main course, roasted, mashed or cubed as a side (this roasted squash recipe can be used with a straight sub of pumpkin), and it makes the most amazing pumpkin soup.
What’s not to love?
Carving Pumpkins and keeping the flesh for pumpkin and walnut cakes
Okay… Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkin carving. Let’s be honest… Most kids love to carve and light up the annual squash lantern. They are beautiful and mesmerising with their orange hue and funny faces. So, I am not advocating ditching the whole thing… Just that when carving, greater care is taken to save the flesh to actually eat.
When pumpkins are carved at GFHQ, we spend time making sure we get as much flesh out as we can. We cut, scrape and scratch until the sides are as thin as we dare to go. The seeds are washed ready for roasting. The flesh is saved for bakes, soups and roasted veg. It’s not difficult. Actually, it’s a great challenge. Set the kids on it as part of the carving experience and get them to help in cooking with it too. It’s important for them to see how amazing pumpkin is when it is used as food.
Here’s a link for instructions on how to make Pumpkin Puree for baking.
How good are these individual gluten free Pumpkin and Walnut cakes?
These little Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes are delicious. When originally planned, the intention was to top with cream cheese frosting. However, I had a big bowl of ‘liquid’ fondant icing left over from making Fondant Fancies, as well as a half batch of home-made marzipan. It therefore seemed only right to make this bake a ‘no waste’, use up leftovers recipe.
Although added at the last minute, the almondy marzipan complements the flavours in the sponge perfectly. The sponge itself is heady with warming autumn spice and moist with pumpkin and ground walnuts. The texture is slightly dense and a little bit sticky… But with each bite, comes a lovely crunch from the chopped walnuts hidden within. Dense does not mean ‘heavy’ however and without the icing, these pumpkin and walnut cakes would be amazing for breakfast. (Actually… I confess. Some may have been eaten for breakfast with icing too…).
Spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes are also dairy free and full of good stuff
As well as being gluten free, these spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes are also naturally dairy free. Actually, the sponge is pretty healthy.
The flour blend is well-balanced for nutrition and is mixed with protein-rich ground walnuts. There is no gritty rice flour in them either. Added sweetness comes from a 50/50-mix of unrefined coconut sugar and soft light brown sugar (although you could use just coconut sugar). And butter has been substituted for dairy free natural coconut oil.
If that isn’t enough to persuade you of its healthier credentials, the fact that it contains pumpkin has to be a bonus. After all, pumpkin is not only good for you, but if using ‘leftover’ Halloween pumpkin flesh, you’re helping to prevent food waste too.
Fondant icing is an optional extra (you can top or not…). But it does add a little bit of naughty sweetness to the experience. Alternatively, you could just add a little marzipan, opt for cream cheese frosting instead, or simply leave the cakes naked.
Ready to make Spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes?
Here’s the recipe for my gluten free-dairy free Spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes. It’s been written just for the sponge. But if you want instructions for the home-made marzipan and icing, you’ll find the links below (and I’ve included decoration instructions in the recipe card).
- marzipan – about half quantity
- fondant – a few spoons of fondant softened to drizzle-point (coloured as you wish)
- chocolate sauce (for spider web decoration) Approximately one-third quantity. Or use shop bought.
And don’t forget to check out our Gluten Free Recipe Book Recipe Index for lots more gluten free foodie inspiration. Happy Baking
Other Pumpkin Recipes on the Gluten Free Alchemist :
- Halloween Pumpkin Mini Rolls
- Pumpkin, Sultana & Chocolate Chip Cake
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones
- Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar
- Baked Apple & Cinnamon Upside-Downuts
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll
- Pumpkin Leek Soup with Ramiro Peppers
- Pumpkin Seed & Sunflower Seed Bread
- Red Lentil Dahl with Roasted Pumpkin
Spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes (gluten free – dairy free)
- cake tins (either for up to 24 individual mini cakes or 2 x 8 inch round tins for larger cakes)
- 80 g sorghum flour
- 60 g tapioca starch flour
- 45 g potato starch flour
- 50 g buckwheat flour
- 50 g ground walnuts grind at home
- 160 g coconut sugar
- 160 g soft light brown sugar
- 1½ tsp GF baking powder
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs UK large
- 270 g pumpkin puree tinned or home-made
- 100 g coconut oil melted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 50 g chopped walnuts
To make the cakes
- Prepare your chosen cake tins(s) by base-lining with baking paper (see NOTES).
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and mix together the flours, ground walnuts, sugars, baking powder, xanthan gum, spices and salt, making sure all lumps are completely broken down. TIP – weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract until well-blended and airy.
- Add the dry ingredients and fold through until just evenly blended.
- Add the chopped walnuts and fold these into the mixture.
- Spoon into the baking tins (about half full) and bake for 15 to 18 mins (small cakes) or 25 to 35 minutes (large cakes) until the top is firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Once baked, remove the cakes from the tins to a wire rack to cool completely.
Optional – Icing instructions for marzipan + fondant Spider Web Cakes (see NOTES for ingredients and links to recipes)
- When cool (and if wanting to ice a flat top) cut a slither from the top to give a flat surface.
- Spread the surface of each cake with warmed apricot jam using a pastry brush.
- Roll out the marzipan into a layer a couple of millimetres thick and cut out pieces the correct size and shape for the cakes using a cookie cutter/template.
- Place a piece of marzipan on top of the apricot jam of each cake and gently press to stick.
- Drizzle each cake with fondant to cover the surface.
- If you are making spiders web decorations, carefully drizzle a spiral shape of chocolate sauce (using a small-nozzled bottle) onto the top of the fondant (before it has set completely).
- immediately drag a toothpick from the centre of the spiral outwards to make a web pattern.
- Leave to set completely.
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