Sweet Pumpkins

The whole thing about pumpkins being used in sweet desserts is an anomaly in England. And if you think about it, it is kind of weird. Although those pumpkins are perfectly happy being an either sweet or savory food, they make for a nice healthy ingredient in a pie or cake. Pumpkins and squashes have great qualities on their own - all that beta-carotene, and you can tell because they're so ORANGE - but they happen to be a wonderful egg substitute in baking. When pureed, they have quite decent binding properties. Of course, if you're making a cake like the one below, it will be quite thick and not the fluffy cakey texture you might be used to. But it certainly will do when you're trying to avoid certain foods.

I love looking at recipes and seeing how I could adjust them, not just for my own dietary requirements, but for others' too - gluten and sugar being the two biggest obstacles. Not only that, since studying at bauman, I've found myself looking into alternatives for other things, like certain oils and sweeteners.

This cake (recipe adapted from food.com) was made to bring over to a friend's house who invited us round for dinner. I knew I wanted to make something quite seasonal, a new recipe, and something (mostly) healthy. The results were pretty scrumptious. Thank goodness, because this would make a wonderful dessert for Thanksgiving dinner, Guy Fawkes night, or Halloween. I used raw turbinado sugar here instead of the nasty white refined stuff. But I did use powdered sugar in the glaze (only one tablespoon though!) - so this is not a 100% healthy cake (are any cakes 100% healthy?) but is using the "nicest" ingredients possible. You could potentially substitute agave nectar instead of the sugar but the cake's consistency could change.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

Makes one 8-inch round cake

The particulars:

  • 2 1/2 cups plain gluten-free flour mix (I used dove's farm)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (one 15-oz can)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For glaze:

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp almond milk¬†(or other milk substitute)
  1. Heat the oven to 375F. Grease an 8-inch round cake tin with coconut oil.
  2. Mix the flour with the spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, sugar, and maple syrup and mix well.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and flour mixture to the sugar-oil-syrup a bit at a time. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated and there are no lumps.
  4. Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  5. Make the glaze while the cake is in the oven: whisk all ingredients together until there are no lumps.
  6. When the cake is 5 minutes from being done (the top will be golden but not dark, a knife inserted in the middle will be almost clean) - drizzle the glaze all over the top of the cake and bake for another 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.