Australian culinary legend Stephanie Alexander is the author of my favourite go-to carrot cake recipe. It's found under the carrot chapter in her classic book 'The Cook's Companion'. This week I decided to tweak the ingredients to make use of our goliath pumpkin. I took the end result along to my book club and it made an excellent accompaniment to the discussion of a surprisingly engaging teen-space-romance-zombie-sci-fi novel.
Now, full disclosure: when it comes to baking I tend to play things fast and loose. It's roughly the same approach as Cap'n Jack Sparrow to the Pirate Code: recipes are really just guidelines. It doesn't always work out in my favour but it's usually fine and the members of my bookclub can confirm that this recipe is a good'un.
In terms of cooking times I just play it by ear. I'm the kind of chef who sets lots of timers at short intervals to check on progress regularly; a throwback to my days as an apprentice when my head chef would attach timers to my apron in a desperate attempt to stop me burning everything.
As well as switching out the main vegetable I've substituted almond meal and buckwheat flour instead of regular flour. This makes the cake gluten free, gives it a nutty flavour and dense texture. I've also changed the spices, doubled the mix and used a different nut; like I said, guidelines.
125g Buckwheat flour
125 Almond meal
375g Brown Sugar
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp ground Cardamon
1 tsp ground Nutmeg (use fresh- it's better)
330ml Olive oil
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
200g chopped pecans
4 C grated pumpkin flesh. Before grating the pumpkin, I cut a wedge into manageable chunks and scooped out the seeds. Leaving the skin on will give you something to hold onto as you get down to the edge of the pieces. Use a fairly course grater to keep good texture
Preheat oven to 160º C and line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixer. Lightly beat the eggs with vanilla and oil and then mix with the dry ingredients until smooth. Fold through grated pumpkin and nuts.
Bake around 60 minutes and then check it! I would probably have a peek at the 45 minute mark too
The cake will be dense and moist but should be cooked through- do a skewer check if you're not sure. I usually just lightly press the top with my fingers- it should feel firm and not too gooey. If needed, chuck it back in for 5 or 10 minute intervals until it's done. Whatever you do don't dry the fucking thing out; you can always cook it for longer but you can't take back the time it's already had.
I really have no strong feelings about cream cheese frosting. Quite frankly I think the flavour is too much and it is often used as a cover up for a sub-par cake. Controversial, I know, but I stand by my decision. So as it turns out I actually have very strong feelings about cream cheese frosting.
But if you really want the icing then you do you.