Saturday, 28 October 2017

Halloween Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

With the darker evenings and cooler days, Autumn has well and truly got it's feet tucked firmly under the dining room table. Heartier bakes are on the menu and with Halloween just round the corner there's nothing more seasonal than a vibrant, sweet pumpkin.

Talking of All Hallow's Eve, I'm writing this sat infront of the Halloween Strictly Come Dancing special (its another rock-n-roll Saturday night in the What Kate Baked household!). This is the extent of my Halloween celebrations. I've eaten all the chocolates intended for any trick or treaters. If I carve a pumpkin I'm very likely to end up with a pumpkin soupy-mush. And I'm too much of a wuss to watch a horror film. But I am all about the treat of course!

This recipe is from BBC Good Food. I adapted it slightly including reducing the sugar content, popping in some walnuts for a little crunch and adding some carrot as I'd read that pumpkins can have a quite considerable water content. The cake is gently spiced, beautifully moist and the cream cheese icing adds an extra sweetness.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

For the cake:

300g self-raising flour
250g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp bicarbnate soda
75g sultanas
100g chopped walnuts
0.5 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
200g butter
250g grated pumpkin (peeled weight)
250g grated carrot (peeled weight)

For the icing:
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter at room temp
125g cream cheese
Zest of two clementines

1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm baking tin with parchment paper.
2. Put the flour, sugar, spices, bicarbonate, sultanas, walnuts and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
3. Beat the eggs into the butter and mix into the dry ingredients. Stir in the pumpkin and carrot
4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden and the cake springs bake on touch
5. For the icing: beat together the icing sugar, butter and cheese. Once the cake has completely cooled, spread over the icing and decorate with the zest of the clementines

Baker's notes...

  • The original recipe stated 30 minutes as the cooking time but many of the reviews found that the cake took over an hour, I suspect due to the water content of the pumpkins. If you find yours is taking a little longer, pop a little foil 'hat' over the cake to avoid the top burning
  • Instead of the sweet cream cheese topping, this cake would be just as delicious with a simple water icing ...or even stark naked
  • This is a great way of using up the innards of the pumpkin after carving a ghost/cat/your self-portrait

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm baking or small roasting tin with baking parchment. Put the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, sultanas and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, then mix with the dry ingredients till combined. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 mins, or until golden and springy to the touch.
  2. To make the frosting, beat together the cheese, butter, icing sugar, orange zest and 1 tsp of the juice till smooth and creamy, then set aside in the fridge. When the cake is done, cool for 5 mins then turn it onto a cooling rack. Prick it all over with a skewer and drizzle with the rest of the orange juice while still warm. Leave to cool completely.
  3. If you like, trim the edges of the cake. Give the frosting a quick beat to loosen, then, using a palette knife, spread over the top of the cake in peaks and swirls. If you’re making the cake ahead, keep it in the fridge then take out as many pieces as you want 30 mins or so before serving. Will keep, covered, for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The ten steps involved in baking with children

After seven months knee deep in nappies with two children under two it was high time for me to dip my toes back into the world of baking and blogging. And what better a rainy Sunday afternoon activity with my two precious poppets than teaching them the glorious art and science of baking? I give you the ten steps involved in baking with children...

1. Enthusiastically decide what to bake. Gaily flick through Nigella and Nigel's seminal works, admiring the beautiful photography and the mouthwatering descriptions. Consider baking a Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream until you take one look at your sous chef, aka the baby. Who is currently licking caked-on, dried-up porridge stuck to his socks from breakfast....two days ago. Decide your sous chef isn't quite up to the Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream.

2. Significantly reduce expectations of a culinary masterpiece and decide even Mary Berry had to start somewhere. Head to the shops for some rice krispies. Yep, you'll start with that classic, the time-honoured, rice krispie cake.

3. Spend five minutes imagining the gorgeous, insta-worthy photos you'll be taking over the next twenty minutes, complete with the-not-particularly-original and very smug hastag #futurebakeoffcontestants

4. Round up the children. Delay the start of the bakeoff to deal with two urgent nappy situations, admiring, as always, your children's timing

5. Start proceedings with an educational slant by showing the toddler what weighing scales, mixing bowls, wooden spoons, baking trays etc etc are. The toddler will inevitably show next to no interest, preferring instead to devour at least half of the chocolate buttons intended for the rice krispie cakes

6. Watch in slow motion as the baby, who until now has been sitting in his high chair, observing events in the manner of a mini Paul Hollywood, reaches over and knocks the entire box of rice krispies to the floor. Spend the next three days hearing crunching (with a snap, crackle, pop naturally) underfoot every time you walk into the kitchen

7. Realise the toddler has lost interest completely and wondered off

8. With the baby still rooted in the high chair and therefore with little choice in the matter, teach him how to make rice krispie cakes, persevering despite the baby showing far more interest in mutilating Sophie the Giraffe with his two new teeth

9. Now that both sous chefs have shown as much interest in baking as most people show in doing their tax returns, think wistfully of the Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream. Attempt a bit of creativity with a nod to Halloween by forming the rice krispie cakes into pumpkins

10. Decide next time you'll save the baking until the precious poppets have gone to bed and stick on cbeebies instead