Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

Pumpkin walnut sponge cake

This is one of the other things I made for my recent tea party. For food intolerance readers, sorry this one breaks all the rules — it’s got sugar, eggs, butter and wheat flour! I was baking for the eating pleasure of others…

I used this basic recipe with some modifications.

115g butter
60g castor sugar [or to taste, less is also ok, especially if you use sweet fruits]
115g flour — used all white flour and substituted two tablespoons with homemade dried okara (simply because I had some to use up)
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup mashed, cooked pumpkin [steam or microwave the pumpkin]
chopped walnuts to taste

To prepare the nuts: roast wholenuts over very low heat in a frying pan without oil. I like to chop them by placing in a deep bowl then using scissors. If you chop them first, the very small bits burn easily when roasting. Use a coarse sieve to remove bits of bitter skin or small burnt scraps.

Cream fat & sugar.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Fold in sifted flour and baking power.
Add pumpkin and walnuts this to sponge mixture & mix well.
Put into 1 loaf tin.
Bake 40 mins at 375˚F / 180˚C or until done.

The final result was very light and spongy! However, I did use a bit more flour than the recipe amount and it was a bit dry. I’ve made this basic recipe countless times before and learnt the following:

1) It’s usually very moist, because of the high butter content, so an oily kind of moist.

2) Don’t overdo the amount of fruit puree (banana, pumpkin, peach etc. – anything soft and mashable) as it results in a batter that has too much liquid and you end up with a dense cake (canceling out all the hard work in creaming to introduce an airy texture!).

3) ALWAYS take the trouble to do the creaming stage properly, don’t rush the process. The light and airy creamed mixture will impact the final texture of the cake greatly.

Be careful of emulsification, which happens when you add too much egg at one time, as I experienced before. I now beat all the eggs in a bowl and add it to the creamed mixture one tablespoon at a time.

Read more about creaming here and here.

12 Sep 09 update: Made this cake again today using homemade red bean paste (sweetened to taste) instead of pumpkin. Very successful and delicious!

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Gluten-free date & nut drop scones

A big thank you to Pattycake for this terrific recipe! My family has been enjoying them as well, which is amazing because my ‘alternative’ baking usually does not go down well with them :D — proof of the success of this recipe.

What’s amazing is also the combination of healthy grains: brown rice flour, chickpea/garbanzo bean flour, as well as flax seed meal!

I got some dates from the fresh fruit section of the supermarket. There are several different varieties in both Cold Storage and NTUC. As a dried fruit, dates are not recommended for those avoiding high salicylate foods or on an anti-candida diet.

My tweaks:
– reduced maple syrup from 4 Tbs to 2 Tbs. With only 2Tbs, maple syrup taste is very subtle, probably wouldn’t have noticed if I’d omitted it altogether.
– anyway, the dates are so sweet, there’s no need for any additional sweetener! I can’t even eat these these jam because the sweetness would be overwhelming.

Have a look at the wonderful texture:

Spelt pumpkin muffins (no sugar)

Here’s my first experiment with non-wheat flour. It really doesn’t taste very different, but that’s because spelt is actually a variety of wheat. Even if you don’t have an outright wheat intolerance problem, food rotation is a good idea.

I came up with this recipe after comparing the Pumpkin muffin recipes from the following books:
Diana Linfoot, Muffin Magic (Perth, Western Australia: Diana Linfoot, 1990)
Miriam Kasin Hospodar, Heaven’s Banquet: Vegetarian Cooking for Lifelong Health the Ayurveda Way
Mary Ann and Mace Wenniger, The Best-Ever Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book

Spelt is not gluten-free so there really was no need for the last book, but it was still interesting to note the spices, raisins and nuts as well as orange juice used as milk replacement in the recipe (no citrus juices in large quantities for me – high in salicylates).

Both the vegetarian and gluten-free books’ muffin recipes use buttermilk or yoghurt, and I’ve found I prefer the texture from this mix than the old recipe I was using. I also use 2 eggs now instead of the 1 egg I did before.

The Ayurvedic book also melted ghee, butter or oil interchangeably for muffins, so I opened the first tin of ghee I’ve ever used . I already had it sitting in the cupboard, waiting to be experimented with.

For the flour mix, you can replace up to half a cup out of a total of two cups with alternative non-gluten flours.

You don’t need any sugar as the pumpkin, raisins and walnuts give this plenty of flavour.

speltpumpkinmuffins-0.jpg

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs
1/4 cup melted ghee
3/4 cup yoghurt
1/4 cup water

1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin (if you have extra you can freeze it)

1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly roasted by dry-frying without oil in a skillet over low heat – you may want to sieve out the tiny pieces which get burnt during the roasting process
1/2 cup sultanas

1) Sift together dry ingredients. This is important to combine the leavening agents and flours properly. If they are not evenly mixed, there will be large holes in your muffins. I often have a problem sifting wholegrain flours with leavening agents because the large flakes in wholegrain flour don’t go through the sieve and I can’t get at the smaller clumps of baking powder/soda to break them up and press them through the mesh. Right now, I’m trying to get round the problem by using my sieve which has a coarser mesh.

2) Mix wet ingredients together. Put the eggs in last, because if you mix raw eggs with hot melted butter you will get cooked egg (yes, this happened to me before!).

3) Mix the pumpkin puree thoroughly with the wet ingredients. I like to use a whisk for the wet ingredients.

4) Coat the raisins and nuts with flour to prevent them from sinking in the batter whilst baking.

5) Mix all the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients all at once quickly and lightly with just a few strokes. It’s ok if there mixture is clumpy.

6) Mix in the raisins & nuts.

7) Put into greased muffin tins. Paper casing is unnecessary. I have discovered that unless the cake has a high fat content (such as this cake recipe), it will stick to the casing. Pour water into any unused holes in the muffin tin to keep the tin from warping, and to produce steam which helps to create crispy tops on the muffins.

8) Bake at 180°C for at least 20 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean and muffins are fragrant.