"For pottage, and puddings, and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies.
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon;
If it were not for pumpkins, we should soon be undoon."
~ Pilgrim Pumpkin Song from the 1600s
When autumn rolls around, and colorful pumpkins start showing up in roadside pumpkin patches and markets, I always wonder how many families picking out their favorite pumpkin to carve for Halloween realize that pumpkins are survival food of the first order.
From early accounts, it is doubtful that the pilgrims would have survived their first winter here in North America without the aid of the sturdy pumpkin.
Pumpkin pie was born from the pilgrims' attempts to incorporate it into as many dishes as possible, since the squash was plentiful and could survive the winter months with primitive storage methods. Of course, as we all know, pumpkin pie it is now a beloved standard eaten by millions on Thanksgiving Day each year.
We sisters think pumpkin makes a tasty soup or yellow curry, as well as a delicious pie, quick bread or cake. I also love spiced pumpkin butter on toast in the Fall and Winter.
Today, I am baking a double-size bundt cake for my co-workers, and my little house is enveloped in the fragrance of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg marrying up with the pumpkin and apple. I plan to top it with an amber Dulce de Leche Glaze and sprinkle on toasted and salted pumpkin seeds. I took inspiration from the caramels that I love with sea salt dusted on the top.
If you have a large garden plot, pumpkins are great fun to grow. In past years I have very much enjoyed the lengthy vines blooming and winding their way towards fall. Once the brilliant yellow flowers are pollinated, and the baby pumkins form, it is possible to watch them change on a daily basis. When fall arrives, the vine has yellowed and the giant leaves have withered in the months of summer sun. Then the pumpkins are a deep orange and ready for harvest. They will last the entire winter if stored in a cool and dry place.
This week I stopped by my local pumpkin and apple farm in Sebastopol to enjoy a feast for the eyes and senses. Pumpkins were piled everywhere, and cases of apples rested on the bright oilcloth covered tables. I purchased apples for our favorite Pumpkin~Apple Spice Cake. I use canned pumpkin for this cake because it is less watery and the flavor is more intense, but you can use fresh pumpkin puree if you like. If you make your own, just make sure to drain it until thickened.
Hooray for the humble pumpkin, long may she reign Queen of the Squash!
Pumpkin-Apple Spice Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze
This recipe is based upon Abby Mandel's Pumpkin Apple Bundt Bread from Abby Mandel's Cuisinart Classroom (Cuisinart Cooking Club, ©1980). I did not use the food processor, as directed in the recipe, except to grate the apple(s). I doubled the recipe and used a large 12 cup heavy duty bundt pan that I purchased at Sign of The Bear Kitchenware (on the plaza in Sonoma).
I used Farmhouse Dulce De Leche Milk Caramel for the glaze, and finished with a sprinkle of toasted and salted pumpkin seeds. Serve with sweetend whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
You can also use standard bread pans to bake loaves. Wrapped well, the loaves freeze beautifully.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp double acting baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 stick (8 Tbsps) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 large tart apple, peeled, halved and cored
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp baking soda mixed with 1 tsp vanilla extract
Bak-Klene or other non-stick cooking spray
dulce de leche
roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
food processor with a steel blade and a shredding disc
12-cup Bundt pan
1. Preheat oven to 350°F witih a rack in the center of the oven.
2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the first 7 ingredients (flour through ginger) for two seconds. Remove to a bowl and reserve.
3. Add the sugar and eggs to the workbowl, and process for one minute.
4. Add butter to to egg mix and process for one minute. Scrap down sides and quickly process for 5 seconds. Leave the mixture in the food processor bowl. Remove metal blade and insert shredding disc.
5. Shred apple with shredding disc. Remove shredding disc and insert metal blade once again.
6. Add pumpkin and vanilla extract/baking soda mix, and process for 2 seconds.
7. Add reserved flour mixture. To incorporate flour, turn machine on and off 4 to 6 times or until flour just disappears.
8. Transfer batter to well buttered and floured 12 cup bundt pan and bake for about 50-55 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan.
9. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes and then invert on a wire rack and cool completely.
10. If necessary, gently heat the dulce de leche until is is at a pourable consistency.