Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Have your pie filling and eat it too

I love pumpkin pie. Or rather, I love pumpkin pie filling. Since I don’t eat wheat flour, I eat my pumpkin pie with a twinge of guilt, scooping out the filling with my fork and leaving the empty pie shell behind.

I look forward to eating pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, which will happen here in a few weeks. But, I’m getting impatient. The pumpkins are now in the store (another of my favourite orange vegetables). They beckon me.

Several weeks back, I had an idea to create a pumpkin cake with almond flour. I imagined the cake would taste like pumpkin pie filling: moist, spiced and mildly sweet.

I was inspired by a cake I make every Christmas: Nigella Lawson’s clementine cake (How to Eat), a dense flourless cake made with almond meal and egg, as well as whole clementine oranges. I thought pumpkin could easily replace the oranges, and brown sugar could replace the white sugar, add some spices, and voilà! Pie filling that can stand on its own.

The result, which I baked today, was a grand success. It tastes like pie filling with its eggy, almost custardy richness. It is moist yet firm, sweet and spiced. If you love pumpkin pie, you must try this cake. And, because it’s made with almond flour and eggs, it’s high in protein and fibre. I am so proud of this cake.

6 eggs
zest and juice of 1/2 orange
225g dark brown sugar
250g almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg, allspice and ginger
375g cooked pureed pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Prepare a springform cake pan (8-10 in. dia.) by greasing the inside with butter and lining with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs with a wire whisk or electric beaters. Stir in the zest, juice, sugar, flour, baking powder, and spices. Add the pumpkin and mix well. The batter will be quite liquid.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If after 40 minutes or so the top begins to burn, lay a piece of aluminum foil over the pan and continue to bake until done.

When baked though, remove the cake from the oven. Leave the cake in the pan on a rack to cool. When cool, remove from the springform tin.

Serve either plain or with whipped cream or crème fraiche.


On the pumpkin: Cooked pureed pumpkin is available in cans at the supermarket, however I cooked mine from scratch. If you are cooking your own pumpkin, DO NOT buy a Jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Make sure you get your pumpkin from the produce department. It will be labelled as a “pie” or “cooking” pumpkin. To cook, cut pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and place each half cut-side down in a large casserole dish. Add water to the dish (about 1/2 in.) and place in a 400F/200C oven for 45 min or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Scoop out the cooked flesh and puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender.

On the measurements: I got a kitchen scale a year or so ago and will never go back to measuring with cups when baking. If you are a fan of British cookbooks, you will already know that their recipes only give measurements for dry ingredients by weight, not volume. It's more accurate, and quite frankly way easier than leveling off measuring cups. You can get a good kitchen scale for under $30. Here's one at Canadian Tire.

Photo: Pumpkin cake.


Milanese Masala said...

I love any spice-type cake and since it's pumpkin season here, I think I just might try your lovely recipe. I wonder which Italian variety would work best.

Kristen Peterson said...

Choose any dense squash/zucca with sweet orange flesh. I don't know what they have there, but butternut and hubbard squash would work fine. You could also try sweet potato, and failing all that, cooked, pureéd carrot would work (return to baby food...). Cheers! KP