Michelle Darmody: Pumpkin bakes

Michelle Darmody: Pumpkin bakes

These recipes are unashamedly autumnal. Pumpkins and other squash are such a distinctive harvest vegetable that they are used as symbols for many of the season’s festivals.

They are most often the base of soups or curries but work very well in baking as well, similar in sweetness to a carrot they add a dense, textured richness to a cake.

Michelle Darmody: Pumpkin bakes

To make the roasted pumpkin flesh I simply slice the pumpkin, remove the seeds and lay the slices into a large oven-proof dish or baking tray, then drizzle them with a little oil and bake until they are soft. You can add some spices and dash of maple syrup at this stage as well if you like, it will make for a richer flavour.

Once the slices are cool enough to handle I scoop the flesh from the skin and mash it with a fork. Make sure to scrape any of the juices from the pan and include parts of the flesh that are golden, as these too will enhance the flavour. I shy away from salt and pepper when using the flesh for baking. For the cream cheese icing it is often easier to do a very thin layer first and let it set for about 15 minutes and then cover this with a second layer. This will stop the crumbs showing through the icing.

Cream cheese icing can discolour easily and gains a strange transparency if it warms up. It is best to ice the cake quite soon before you intend to serve it.

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing

Michelle Darmody: Pumpkin bakes

Ingredients:

260ml of sunflower oil

260g of light muscovado sugar

5 eggs, lightly beaten

150g of golden sultanas

The zest of 3 oranges

210g of grated pumpkin flesh

1.5 tsp of baking powder

3 tsp of mixed cake spice

260g of self raising flour

To decorate:

150g of soft butter

450g of cream cheese

120g of icing sugar

The zest of 2 lemons

1 tsp of vanilla essence

A few pumpkin seeds

A few pumpkin blueberries

A few pumpkin pecan nuts

Method:

Heat the oven to 180C and line a 10in-round cake tin with parchment.

Stir the oil, sugar andeggs together in a large bowl until combined. Stir in the sultanas, zest and pumpkin and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Sieve the baking powder and spices into flour and stir them through. Stir them into the other ingredients and combine.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing whisk the butter until light andfluffy, whisk in the cream cheese, icing sugar, zest and vanilla until smooth. Use a pallet knife to spread it onto the cake. Decorate with a line of blueberries, pecans and pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin and pecan tart

Michelle Darmody: Pumpkin bakes

Ingredients:

For the pastry: 

225g flour

A pinch of sea salt

140g butter

55g caster sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

550g of roasted and mashed pumpkin flesh

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 tsp of ground nutmeg

1 tsp of ground ginger

1 tbsp of golden caster sugar

2 tbsp of maple syrup

150g of pecan nut, roughly chopped

3 eggs lightly beaten

190mls of cream

To decorate

A few pumpkin seeds

A few pecan nuts

Method:

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and flour a 9in tart tin.

To make the pastry mix the flour and salt and rub in the butter, do not over mix; it should resemble rough breadcrumbs.

Stir the sugar into the eggs, mix it lightly and add to the flour and butter, bring all of the ingredients together to form a smooth pastry and then rest it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Roll the pastry on a flour-dusted surface and line the tin with it, by gently pressing it down around the edges. Place into the heated oven with a layer ofbaking parchment and some baking beads on top. Bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beads and parchment and crisp up the pastry for five more minutes in the oven. Trim the edges with a sharp knife if you wish. Set aside.

To make the filling stir the pumpkin, spices, maple syrup, sugar and chopped pecan nuts together until combined. Add the eggs and cream and stir them in. Fill the cooled tart case with the mix and bake at 180C for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin and then decorate with the pumpkin seeds and pecan nuts.

Michelle Darmody: Pumpkin bakes

Maple syrup and pumpkin pancakes

250g of mashed pumpkin flesh, made after the pumpkin was roasted

200g of self raising flour,sieved

3 tsp of ground nutmeg

20mls of maple syrup

120mls of buttermilk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

20g of soft butter

To serve:

2 tbs of ricotta

8 smoked streaky rashers

Maple syrup

Method:

Place all of the pancake ingredients into a mixer and blitz until mostly smoothbut still retaining a bit of a texture.

Heat a knob of butterand sunflower oil in a heavy- based pan until very hot.

Spoon a small ladle of the batter onto the pan and allow to cook until a few bubbles appear on the surface.

Gently look underneath, it should be turning golden. Flip the pancake over and allow the second side to turn golden as well.

Keep the pancakes ina warm oven, under anupturned plate, while making the rest.

Repeat until you have used up the batter.

Stack the pancakes and serve with a spoon of ricotta and smoked streaky rashers, grilled how you like them, topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.

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