Fall has arrived! There is a nip in the air, and the leaves are beginning to change colors. Fall is one of my favorite seasons here in Umbria as the days are usually pretty warm and sunny, but the temperatures drop when the sun goes down. Here in Umbria, produce is very seasonal, so I have to wait for fall to be able to buy winter greens and squash. As soon as I find that first pumpkin in my local grocery store, I grab it up and then daydream about how best to use it. It seems that everyone rushes the seasons anymore, and back in August pumpkin recipes were popping up everywhere, but as my daughter says, “If loving pumpkin spice is wrong, then I don’t want to be right!”. It has been a long time since I smelled pumpkin spices wafting through my kitchen so I decided it was time to bake something pumpkin, and chose a pumpkin and apple cake to make with my first fresh pumpkin.
Here in Italy, I have never seen pumpkin in a can, so to use fresh pumpkin in baking, I need to roast it first, then puree it. I had diced apple in my freezer from our apple trees, so I used that, but fresh apples will work just fine. To roast my pumpkin, I simply peel it, remove the seeds and cut it into 2 inch pieces. I roast it in a preheated 425 degrees F oven, for about 30 minutes or until it is fork tender. I find that by cutting the pumpkin into pieces before I roast it, the excess water is drawn out during the cooking process so the final pureed pumpkin is thicker. This cake is very moist, so I wrap it and refrigerate it to prevent spoilage. I am not a big fan of icing of any description, so I simply sprinkled my cake with powdered sugar, though a simple glaze would look nice on this cake also.
When buying pumpkin. look for firm squash that feels heavy for its size. Rinds should have a dull sheen and be intact and hard. Slight variations in color are not important. If the stem is still attached, it should be rounded and dry, not shriveled, blackened or moist. Do not buy squash that is soft or has a cracked, watery, decayed or shiny rind.
Deborah Mele 2016
- 2 Large Eggs, At Room Temperature
- 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Lightly Packed Brown Sugar
- 2/3 Cup Vegetable Oil (I Use Sunflower Oil In Baking)
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Spice Mix or
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon &
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg &
- Pinch of Ground Cloves
- 3 Cups Diced Apples
- 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
- Powdered Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with baking spray.
- In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together the eggs and two sugars until light in color, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the oil and vanilla, and beat until blended.
- Add the pumpkin puree and continue to beat for another minute or two.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and pumpkin spice mix.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix just until blended.
- Fold in the apples and walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cake for 10 minutes then remove from the pan.
- Continue to cool to room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar.