Halloween’s over for another year…… there are way too many sweets in the house and the pumpkin shell has hit the composter. But did you know that the UK wastes 18,000 tons of food (specifically pumpkin) as a result of binning the flesh left over from carving jack o’lanterns. An article in the Ecologist equates this to the ‘same weight as 1,500 double decker buses’, which ‘if made into pumpkin pie could make 360 million portions’. That is a staggering figure and frankly, as a nation, we should be collectively shamed by it.
I am pleased to say that such appalling waste will not be tolerated in our house. We hate food waste. Pumpkins are bought from the local green-grocer…… felt for weight to ensure they are full of flesh……. and sourced for food and not specifically labelled as a designated ‘carving’ fruit………. The shell that is carved is considered a by-product! Lengthy a process as it may be, when it comes to pumpkin, we carve with care and scrape and slice as much as we can from the pumpkin shell to use in the kitchen.
Historically, we have used it to make soups, to roast and to make the ubiquitous North American offering of pumpkin pie. But this year, some has gone into making a totally amazing Pumpkin, Sultana & Chocolate Chip Cake. Wow! is all I can say…..
This cake is so tasty……. It is dense and slightly chewy, but moist. Rich in colour and spiced Autumn flavours, it is also packed full of chocolate chips and sultanas. There is absolutely no hint when you bite into it, that it contains any obvious pumpkin at all. I gave it to my daughter and she wolfed it down. I still haven’t told her what is in it as I know this will sadly cloud her perception of deliciousness (kids can be so fickle!). It is a cake full of good stuff…….. just consider the chocolate and icing as a naughty side-order and if you want to pass on either or both, the sponge really won’t suffer for it. Throw in some nuts instead!
Saturated with the aromas and exoticness of a good, warming Autumn bake……. cinnamon, ginger and citrus……. can you think of a better way to use up the orange flesh of that Halloween squash? And the timing couldn’t be better either, to accompany the celebrations of Guy Fawkes this week. A perfect sweet offering to munch beside the bonfire, whilst watching sparkles and colours lighting up the night sky.
The cream cheese frosting slathered across the top is infused with sweet vanilla and adds extra decadence as well as a contrast of texture. It is smooth and luscious, giving a rich, velvety feel to the whole experience of eating it.
I am sending a few slices of this early November delight to a handful of challenges this month :
Random Recipes over at Belleau Kitchen. The lovely Dom has for November, challenged us to randomly select a recipe from all those magazines and clippings that litter the kitchen shelves (yes Dom….. I certainly have them!).
I will be honest…… I specifically wanted to use up the pumpkin, so I picked up my most recent wodge of freebies and mags and skimmed through until I found the first recipe with ‘pumpkin’ in the header. My start point for this recipe came from Coeliac UK’s ‘Crossed Grain’ magazine which is a fab resource for those with Coeliac disease and gluten intolerence, from health advice, through to campaigns, research, recipes and rights.
I have taken their recipe for Pumpkin Cake and only massacred it a little. I did truly try to stick closely to it, but because I use my own home-blended gluten free flour, I had to adapt away from commercial GF blends, to include baking powder and xanthan gum. I didn’t have any mixed spice, so I substituted with my favourites…. cinnamon and ginger (not far from the original then…). I pureed the pumpkin rather than grating it as I wanted a smooth, less grainy bake. And I changed the sugar, used less sultanas, threw in some chocolate chips and also some vanilla for good measure!
The Biscuit Barrel with Laura at I’d Much Rather Bake Than…. who is this month celebrating Winter Warmers. Packed with warming spices, this cake is a fantastically satisfying, comforting bake.
For the same reason, Love Cake with Ness over at Jibber Jabber….. November’s theme being ‘In With a Bang’.
Extra Veg jointly hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy. The pumpkin secretly hidden within this cake makes it almost virtuous!
Pumpkin, Sultana & Chocolate Chip Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
- Base line a 25 x 25cm baking tin (7cm deep) with baking paper. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon, ginger, salt and sugar, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
- Add and stir in the sultanas, chocolate chips and orange zest. Set aside
- In a heat proof bowl, gently melt the butter.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until light and airy.
- Add the butter, and whisk again until thoroughly combined.
- Add the orange juice and vanilla extract and beat again.
- Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to mix thoroughly.
- Fold in the pumpkin puree.
- Pour the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the cake springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cream-cheese frosting : Beat together the cream cheese and butter and then add the vanilla extract and icing sugar a little at a time until the icing has begun to thicken. Place in the fridge until the cake is completely cold and then spread over the top of the cake.