Paradise Pumpkin Cake
This is adapted from a recipe by Italian food writer Valentina Harris. ‘It’s a great alternative to pumpkin pie, especially when served with a blob of whipped cream. I have spiced the cake with grains of paradise which give it a beautifully warm and gingery flavour – just enough to make the tongue tingle and perfect with the sweetness of the pumpkin. See Cook’s notes below for substitutions.
To soak the sultanas, I like an anise-flavoured liqueur such as Galliano or sambucca, but the choice is yours.
liqueur of your choice 100ml
vegetable oil for greasing
pumpkin (see Cook’s notes below) 600–700g
unsalted butter 150g
salt a pinch
whole almonds 50g, finely chopped
candied orange or citron peel 50g, finely chopped
lemon grated zest of 1
grains of paradise (see Cook’s notes below) 1 tbsp, coarsely ground
plain flour 85g
baking powder 1 heaped tsp
eggs 2, yolks and whites separated
icing sugar for dusting
1) Put the sultanas and liqueur in a bowl and soak for at least 45 minutes, or preferably overnight, until the sultanas are plump. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Grease and line a 22-23cm shallow cake tin.
2) Quarter the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds but do not peel. Cut into big chunks and place cut side up in a roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45–55 minutes until soft. When cool enough to handle, remove the peel and whiz the flesh in a food processor. You should end up with about 425g of purée.
3) Tip the purée into a saucepan and add the butter. Stir over medium heat until the butter has melted.
4) Add a pinch of salt, then tip the mixture into a bowl and beat until smooth. Stir in the sugar, almonds, citron, lemon zest and grains of paradise. Add the sultanas and any remaining liqueur, mixing thoroughly.
5) Sift the flour and baking powder together, then gradually add to the pumpkin mixture, beating well with each addition.
6) Beat the egg yolks for 4–5 minutes until pale and thick, then fold into the mix. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in carefully using a large metal spoon.
7) Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin. Level the surface, then bake for 1–1¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If the cake is browning too much, cover the top with a sheet of foil. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with sifted icing sugar before serving.
||Use a dense-fleshed variety such as dark green Kabocha, or bright orange Onion Squash, or the grey-skinned Crown prince.
||If you can’t get grains of paradise, try a teaspoon each of ground ginger and coarsely ground black and white peppercorns instead
Recipe © Christine McFadden from Pepper: the Spice that Changed the World published by Absolute Press/Bloomsbury