I don’t really like pumpkin. There, I said it. The most sacrilegious words ever to be uttered by a blogger it seems. I mean it is autumn and there are pumpkins galore, at the farms, the stores and the blogosphere. I look at them, ooh and aaah at the sizes and the shapes and even at how pretty they are, but not one of them ever goes home with me.
My introduction to pumpkin was from our Kuwaiti neighbours back in England, the ones who made the delicious goodies and sent them down to us. One of the dishes that used to be sent down regularly was a savoury preparation of pumpkin; where chunks of the amber hued fruit were cooked with lamb in a tomato based curry. It was really good and I enjoyed eating the soft, orange, sweet flesh of the pumpkin. So, what happened? Store bought pumpkin pie is what happened.
In England, my mother didn’t make pumpkin anything. In fact, I don’t ever remember seeing a pumpkin growing up (and I mean all winter squash) at least not in our house. So, on my first trip to the US we happened to be here around Thanksgiving. We were invited to a gathering at my parents’ friend’s house and that’s where I had my first experience with American pumpkin pie. And I’ve hated pumpkins since.
Fast forward a few years, a wedding, a husband and four children later, and here we are. I have American children, and even though during their childhood, I never made pumpkin anything, they being Americans, wanted pumpkin pie one year. I was in a serious debate with myself, after hearing that request. But, I am a cook and a baker and I don’t back down from a challenge (unless it seafood, then I have no problem letting it go). I went straight to my favourite pie maker, Rose Levy Beranbaum and searched her book to see what kind of a pumpkin pie recipe she had listed. Her recipe looked normal, it didn’t have a million different spices, or tins of milk or where you opened a tin of pumpkin mixed it with eggs and poured the batter into a crust. No, hers was a recipe. It involved cooking the pumpkin and adding cream and a hint of spice. In short, it’s a perfect pumpkin pie recipe and it’s SO good. It has since become a staple dessert on our Thanksgiving table. Laith requests it every year and then eats almost half of it by himself. Last year, my husband complained he only got one piece. I think I will have to make two this year.
So, yes, slowly but surely, I am getting over my dislike and fear of pumpkin. I still haven’t progressed to actually buying one from the farm stand yet but we’re getting there. Funny thing is, I don’t mind other winter squash, which actually happen to be pumpkins also, it is just those orange ones. To help the process along, I thought this year I would attempt something other than my usual pie.
After joining the Improv Cooking Challenge two months ago, I finally had time to take part this month. The Improv Cooking Challenge is hosted every month by Kristen Baker of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. It just so happened that this month the challenge was cake and frosting. I jumped on the opportunity to use pumpkin in my cakes (because it’s autumn and all, and you’re not a reputable blogger unless you have a pumpkin recipe on your blog) and make those cakes for Laith to take to school as his treat for our Eid ul Adha holiday and fulfill my challenge for this month. I am quite brilliant.
So, here are my Pumpkin Mini Bundt Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and topped with some deliciously, crunchy pumpkin seed brittle. And you know what? I love them.
- 2 cups/280g plain/all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 stick/113g butter. softened
- 1 cup/200g granulated organic sugar
- 1 cup/212g pumpkin puree, (I used an organic tinned one)
- 1 cup/212g sour cream
- 3 eggs, large organic
- ½ cup/120mL organic milk
- 8 oz/227g cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup/60g powdered sugar
- ¾ cup/175mL heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup/100g superfine/caster sugar
- Line a baking tray with parchment or liner.
- Place the sugar in a large skillet with a very thick bottom.
- Make sure the sugar is in a very thin layer not more than 0.1″/3mm, use a large pan.
- Heat the sugar gently until it turns a golden brown colour.
- Do not stir at any time. There may be little bits of undissolved sugar and that’s fine.
- Carefully, add the toasted seeds and stir with a wooden spoon until they are evenly coated.
- Pour the coated seeds onto the lined baking tray and let cool.
- When the seeds have cooled, break the brittle into medium pieces so they can top the cakes.
- Preheat oven to 350℉/180℃
- Grease and flour 2 mini bundt pans or line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners
- Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, the spices and salt together in a bowl, keep aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and beat until incorporated.
- Add the sour cream and pumpkin puree and mix.
- Add the flour and the milk.
- Spoon into the mini bundt pans or into cupcake tins.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm and golden brown.
- Let cool in the pan 10 minutes and then remove the cakes from the pans and cool on a rack before frosting.
- Beat the cream cheese until softened.
- Sift in the sugar and beat until fluffy and smooth.
- Add the cream and whip until firm, and peaks form.
- Spoon into a piping bag, if desired, or can just spread the frosting on the cakes.
- Top each cake with a piece of pumpkin seed brittle.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’ve been busy this week with Eid and all, but will visit all of you this weekend and catch up!