When I thought about what to do with a vaguely autumnal theme, I was a bit stumped. I made parkin once and it wasn't all that successful. I thought of something appley but again, apple cakes don't seem to do it for me. I like them with blackberries but they are past their best by early September and I refuse to pay supermarket prices for blackberries.
At this time of the year, I normally end up making a cake for Hallowe'en as we do a fundraiser/family event in our NCT branch. So, I set about thinking of a cake to make that would fit both briefs. Of course, pumpkins are a big feature of Hallowe'en so I set about wondering if you could make a pumpkin cake. After all, pumpkin pie is a big thing in the US, right? So pumpkin cake can't be that different. I tweeted this thought out loud and some lovely ladies furnished me with links to recipes. I was sold on this recipe when I realised that it doesn't require the pumpkin to be pre-cooked, thus making the whole process easier and quicker. It's very similar to carrot cake, right down to the cream cheese frosting, which I'll admit now is not my forte.
I actually made this with butternut squash because I had one on I wanted to use. The timings are slightly variable as the pumpkin or squash can vary wildly in water content so it might take a lot longer to cook.
Here's how I made it
Hallowe'en Pumpkin Cake
(makes around 15 pieces)
for the cake
300g self-raising flour
300g light brown muscovado sugar
3 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g dried fruit (I used raisins, you could use sultanas)
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp orange juice
500g (peeled and deseeded) pumpkin or butternut squash, grated
to finish the cake
85g butter, softened
200g full fat soft cheese (low fat doesn't work, don't do it!)
100g icing sugar
zest of 1 orange and juice of half
First, prepare your tin. Take a roasting or baking tin around 20x30cm (8x12 in), butter it well and line with baking parchment. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Mix all the dry ingredients for the cake together (not the pumpkin) in a large bowl until combined. Melt the butter (best done in a jug), then beat in the eggs and add the zest and juice. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until well combined, then stir in the grated pumpkin. Pour the cake mix into the prepared tin. Bake for 30 mins or until golden and firm, springing back when touched. I found mine needed much longer as the middle was not cooked so I turned it down to 160C to avoid burning and cooked for about another 15 mins.
Whilst the cake is baking, make the frosting by beating together the cheese, butter, icing sugar, most of the orange zest and 1tsp of the juice until smooth and place in the fridge until needed.
Take the cake when done out of the oven and leave it to cool for 5 mins before removing it from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool. Whilst the cake is still warm, prick all over with a skewer and drizzle over the rest of the orange juice. Leave to cool thoroughly.
Once cool, you can trim the edges of the cake (the sides of my tin weren't straight so I did, but you really don't have to.). Swirl the frosting over the top of the cake using a flat knife or spatula. Decorate with the rest of the orange zest.
And so, finally, let me unveil my entry to English Mum's Autumn Bake Off. It's shocking photography but I made the cake, went out for a curry, came home and finished off the cake and I remembered late on that I hadn't taken a pic, so it's as bad as, if not worse than my usual standard. Still, it's all I got so this will have to do.
(Late edit, but here is some of the cake cut up and ready to be eaten at the Hallowe'en Party.)
And if you want to have a go yourself, please do. The winner will get a cook book by Diana Henry and there is a kid's prize of a Chef Curly Bear. You've still got until midnight on 12th November to enter the competition so get baking!