It’s Halloween and that can only mean one ingredient….. Pumpkin!
Last year in the UK, an estimated 15 million pumpkins were carved for Halloween but not eaten, according to a new seasonal campaign from Unilever and environmental charity Hubbub. 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.
Isn’t that criminal? How can an intelligent, allegedly forward-thinking nation allow that much food waste on an annual basis purely in celebration of a festival?
Pumpkin is an amazing vegetable, rich in vital antioxidants and vitamins. It is also extremely low in calories with no saturated fats or cholesterol and plenty of fibre. Even the seeds are good for you, being packed with mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are great for heart health. Perhaps it is time to rethink all that waste!
Like most other children, Miss GF loves to carve an annual pumpkin and set it outside on the porch to show we are a ‘Halloween-friendly’ house. To be honest, I don’t really like the whole knock on doors thing, but if anyone is willing to risk walking up our very dark, unlit road, then they deserve a treat…….. We don’t get many who bother!
When pumpkins are carved at GF HQ, we spend ages making sure we get as much flesh out as we can. We cut and scrape and scratch until the sides are as thin as we can dare to go. The seeds are usually washed ready for roasting and all the flesh is saved for bakes, soups and roasted veg.
This latest cake is delicious. I had planned it some time ago with Halloween in mind and originally had every intention of topping it with cream cheese frosting. However, I had a big bowl of ‘liquid’ fondant icing left over from last week’s Fondant Fancies which needed using, as well as a half batch of home-made marzipan, so it seemed only right to make this a bit of a ‘No Waste Food Challenge’ recipe.
Although it wasn’t a planned addition, the marzipan perfectly compliments the flavours in the sponge, which is heady with warming autumn spice (ginger and cinnamon) and moist with pumpkin and ground walnuts. The texture of the sponge is slightly dense and a little bit sticky…… with each bite, there is a lovely crunch from the chopped walnuts hidden inside. Dense does not mean ‘heavy’ and without the icing, I could happily eat these as bars for breakfast (actually…. I confess, I have eaten a few for breakfast with icing too…).
The added bonus is that they are both gluten and dairy free and the ingredients are actually pretty healthy! The flours are well-balanced for nutrition, mixed with ground walnuts and with no gritty rice flour either….. They are sweetened with a half half mix of unrefined coconut sugar and soft light brown sugar (although you could use just coconut sugar) and butter has been substituted for healthier coconut oil….. If that isn’t enough to persuade you of its ‘betterness’, the pumpkin is not only good for you but if you make the puree using your Halloween pumpkin flesh, you will ensure you are doing your bit to prevent food waste too….. The fondant icing is an optional extra (you can top or not…), but does add a little bit of naughty sweetness to the experience….
If you miss out on making these for Halloween, they would be perfect for Bonfire Night too!
I am sharing these Autumnal Spiced Pumpkin & Walnut Cakes with the following :
No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma
#TheFoodCalendar with Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – celebrating Halloween
Sunday Fitness & Food with Marathons & Motivation.
Other Pumpkin Recipes on the Gluten Free Alchemist :
Pumpkin, Sultana & Chocolate Chip Cake
Pumpkin Seed & Sunflower Seed Bread
Pumpkin Toffee-Apple Cake
Baked Apple & Cinnamon Upside-Downuts
Autumnal Spiced Pumpkin & Walnut Cakes (makes approx 24 mini cakes; 2 x 8 inch/20 cm single layer cakes; 1 x 9 x 13 inch/23 x 33 cm tray cake or 12 mini cakes and 1 x 8 inch/20 cm round cake)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs
270g pumpkin puree
100g coconut oil – melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
50g chopped walnuts
marzipan – I used home-made as from this recipe (about half quantity)
a little apricot jam – warmed
chocolate sauce (for spider web decoration) – you can use shop bought, but I used home-made from this recipe (approx one-third quantity)
- Prepare your chosen cake tins(s) by base-lining with baking paper.
- 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. 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.
- Remove the cakes from the tins to a wire rack to cool completely.
- When cool, 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 cake(s).
- Place a piece of marzipan on top of the apricot jam of each cake and gently press to stick.
- Drizzle each cake with fondant or spread with cream cheese frosting.
- If you are making spiders web decorations on the top, carefully drizzle (using a small-nozzled bottle) a spiral shape of chocolate sauce onto the top of the fondant (before it has set completely) and drag a toothpick from the centre of the spiral outwards to make a web pattern.
- Leave to set completely.