Sugar, Spice & Bulbous Gourds
Autumn, a welcome season (once you’ve come to terms with summer truly coming to an end that is). I adore the in between seasons , as I like to call them, Spring & Autumn, these are the times of year that evoke excitement of things to come.
Moody skies & early evenings definitely call for that extra layer of clothing, reclaimed from the depths of the wardrobe. Every year I know when the time has come to let go of summer & fully embrace the season when the leaves in my garden turn an array of beautiful apple reds & mustard brown hues. This captivating show only last for a couple of weeks but in four years, I still have yet to tire of it & it continues to make me smile every Autumn.
It is quite possibly the most picturesque time of the year & If you’re not an early bird you’re missing out. I very reluctantly resorted to turning the heating on & donning the dressing gown this week (a very fetching polar bear-esque ensemble). Having recently returned to my previous job, following a temporary promotion over the last 3 months, I have tactically taken the majority of the week off to
sleep & eat cake come to terms with it. During which, I fully intend to utilise the opportunity to welcome the kitchen into the season.
The colder months for me are my favourite time to be in the kitchen, not only is it warm but everyone needs a little comfort food when it’s chilly outside. Is there anything better than cwtching up (or cuddle if you’re not from Wales) on the sofa with a pot of tea & a slice of homemade spiced cake to thaw your extremities?
Parkin, damsons, apples, pumpkins, cobnuts, all ingredients synonymous with Autumn. I’ll admit, that I am all too excited to be raiding the spice rack once again (yes I am easily excitable), but one of my absolute favourite things to experiment with as this time of year has to be the bulbous, orange pumpkin. I have a fascination with ingredients that can traverse between both sweet & savoury uses.
Many (MANY) pumpkin triumphs & disasters have been created in my kitchen over the years, from pumpkin pie to pumpkin risotto. By far my favourite experiment, and the one in which I’ve spent the most energy perfecting, is my spiced pumpkin cake. It’s an absolute joy to make as it is undeniably simple. Light, moist & perfectly spiced, pumpkin loaf is a seasonal treat that I continue to make every year.
SPICED PUMPKIN LOAF
(makes one 2lb loaf)
- 210g pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs
- 175ml rapeseed oil
- 160g light muscovado sugar
- 220g plain flour
- 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp ginger
- Optional: 1tbsp pumpkin seeds to top
- Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment
- Using a whisk, in a large bowl combine the pumpkin puree, eggs & oil
- Add the sugar and beat again
- Sift over the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder & spices
- Beat the mixture until smooth
- Pour the mixture into the tin & sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds if using
- Bake at 180°C for 50 mins – 1 hour (45 minutes if making in the decorative Nordicware pan), until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly when removed
- Leave the cake to cool in its tin for 10 minutes before removing & allowing to cool fully on a cooling rack