Pumpkins! ‘Tis the season – Let’s make all the pumpkin things
Working with pumpkin ‘goop’
I’m always happy for pumpkin season. Yes, there’s probably too much pumpkin flavoured stuff out there, but so much of it tastes so very nice. I didn’t have a good start to my pumpkin experience though. As a teenager, my first exposure was to pumpkin pie that was slimy and over-spiced, as well as being encased in rather not-so-great pastry. Not having ever actually seen a real pumpkin until I moved to Canada, I didn’t really know too much about them. If you’re the same, here’s an interesting article on pumpkins from the History Channel in the US.
Learning to love pumpkin – lots of recipe options
Fast forward many, many years … still no pumpkin love for me until I started working with it myself. I found a pumpkin pie filling recipe that tasted good (and was not slimy) and started incorporating it into many other baked goods – muffins, scones, cheesecake … I could go on and probably will in another post. Pumpkin season is here to stay!
I also learned to handle pumpkin ‘goop’ in a way that gives a really nice finished product. I use both the canned stuff (not pie filling, just actual pumpkin) as well as baking my own.
Both versions are really good, but here’s one tip for you if you use the canned variety. Dry it out a bit! Yes, that stuff is wet! I spread it out on a baking sheet on top of a layer of paper towel or a clean lint-free tea-towel. Then I layer more paper towel on top and press down gently. You would be amazed at how much moisture is soaked up by the paper towel. Do this a couple of times until it’s fairly dry. The resulting pumpkin ‘goop’ is so much nicer and the flavour seems so much nicer.
Bake your own pumpkin – easy as ‘pie’
If you want to try baking your own, it is very easy. The hardest part for me (or the yuckiest part) is scooping out the seeds. No, I don’t do anything with them, I know people do, but this is not something that works for me.
Buy small ‘pie pumpkins’, they should be the size of a small cabbage, not one of the massive things you carve for Hallowe’en. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and the thready stuff. Place cut side down on a baking sheet (line with parchment for easier clean up) and bake for approximately one hour at 350°F.
Let the pumpkins cool a bit and peel off the skin … it’s sort of leather and as it cools it will look like a deflated football 😁🏉. Once the skin is removed (and tossed into the compost bin) you can just mash it with a fork. The average pie pumpkin gives around 500g or one pound of cooked pumpkin goop. Use as needed for your recipe and freeze the rest for the next time you need pumpkin. Pumpkin season is not that long, so take advantage of their availability if this appeals to you.
What to make with pumpkin?
As I was thinking of recipes to showcase pumpkin I had a really hard time choosing, but I’m starting here with my Pumpkin Pecan loaf. It’s a loaf-shaped cake that has cinnamon and cardamom in it as well as a brown sugar glaze (also with cardamom). It’s the type of cake you can eat for breakfast!
I just found these parchment loaf pan liners and am extremely chuffed about that! I used to buy these whenever I was in Scotland on holidays, but could never get them here in Canada. They make such a difference. One tiny trick I used with this loaf, I left it in the parchment liner when I poured the glaze on, when the extra ran down the sides, I scooped it up and poured it over the cake a second time. Brilliant right! Once your loaf cake is baked and glazed, I recommend keeping it in a container like this one. Mine lasted for several days with no drying out at all.
If I was to ask my sons what their favourite pumpkin recipe is, I’d probably hear pumpkin pancakes! No real recipe required, just add a blob (one blob equals approximately one cup) per recipe of pancake batter. Add a little cinnamon – just a little though, let’s not get crazy (sorry cinnamon lovers) – and some chopped pecans. Yummmm this is very good with warmed maple syrup and some crispy bacon.
Here’s the recipe for the Pumpkin Pecan loaf … if pumpkin’s not on your menu today, maybe you’ll like some plain white muffins instead, you could even add a tiniest hint of pumpkin-y flavours like cinnamon and cardamom to them. Let me know in the comments what you decided to make.
- 187g (1 and 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
- 300g (1 and 1/2 cups) white sugar*
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 eggs
- 112g (1/2 cup) canola oil
- 78g (1/3 cup) water
- 50g (1/2 cup) pecans
- 240g (7 and 1/2 ounces) pumpkin 'goop'
- 30g (1/8 cup) butter
- 16g (1/8 cup) white sugar
- 25g (1/8 cup) brown sugar
- 30g (1/8 cup) whipping cream - 30%
- 38g (1/3 cup) sifted icing sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 4-6 whole pumpkin halves for decoration
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (108°C) and prepare a loaf pan - either spray with nonstick baking spray or line with parchment paper.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
- Mix the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and gently mix into the dry ingredients.
- Add the pecans - you can chop them roughly with a knife of break with your fingers into irregular pieces.
- Scrape into your prepared pan and bake for at least 60 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer to see if there is any wetness. If so, put back into the oven for another five to ten minutes.
- Let cool for at least 20 minutes before adding glaze.
- Mix all the glaze ingredients and whisk until fully combined. Sift the icing sugar first, as this will prevent lumps in the glaze. Lumps will not dissolve, so best to sift first.
- Pour the glaze over the cooled cake.
- Add some whole pecan halves for decoration.
- Best eaten within two days for ultimate freshness.
My recipes are all created using metric weight measurements. Conversion to spoons and cups are approximate.
*The amount of sugar in the cake can be reduced by a 100g (1/2 cup) if you like. Since pumpkins are sometimes very bland and not sweet, this is where you can adjust. Taste your pumpkin 'goop' first and decide.
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