Canned pumpkin puree is not particularly commonplace in the UK. Though it is now stocked by a couple of the higher end supermarkets, you can't nip to your local food purveyor for a pint of milk without tripping over a pyramid of real life pumpkins in October.
Here are some of the things I made with my pumpkin, for those of you intending to puree your own, or just open a can, this Halloween.
Who doesn't love quesadillas? I’d eat everything encased in carbs and melted cheese if I could get away with it. The hot and spicy pumpkin puree is delicious with the crispy tortilla, they only take a couple of minutes to make, and you can get a great ‘eat one while cooking the next’ production line going. Like pancake day.
Makes 4 wedges (multiply the recipe as required)
2 flour tortillas
30g cheddar cheese – finely grated
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon nut meg
Fresh coriander - chopped
1. Put a dry frying pan onto a high heat. In a bowl mix the pumpkin puree and spices together
2. Spread the pumpkin mix onto one tortilla, sprinkle generously with cheese and coriander, top with the other tortilla and press down firmly
3. Dry fry on a high heat for two minutes on each side, until the cheese has melted
Once my household was fed with an enormous pile of quesadillas, I turned my attention to cake. This is a quick and easy pumpkin loaf, with plenty of flavour, while the caramel glaze keeps moist. Top with a fine layer of icing sugar, or your favourite frosting dusted with cinnamon.
175g self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
265g caster sugar
200g pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon milk
1 egg - beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a loaf tin.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, spice and nutmeg together. Rub in the butter until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in 140g of the caster sugar.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin, milk and egg, before folding it gently into the breadcrumbs.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
6. Meanwhile, put the remaining 125g sugar in a small pan and add just enough water to cover it.
7. Bring to the boil and bubble for a few minutes until a light caramel is formed.
8. Add 100ml of water, careful of spatter, and stir until the caramel dissolves. Pierce a few holes in the sponge with a skewer, and drizzle some of the hot liquid over the top of your cake.
Now imagine if I’d made that cake but got distracted by an important email from a friend somewhere around step three. Purely for argument's sake, let's say I forgot to add the sugar, and didn't realise until the cake came out of the oven resembling a rock bun, forcing me to retrace my steps and discover my error. What would I do with the leftover cake? Why make them into pumpkin cake pops, of course!
Pumpkin cake pops
Ruth Clemens, runner up of The Great British Bake off series one, is your girl for cake pop recipes. Seriously, don’t even hope to get yours looking as good as hers. Nonetheless, you can have fun trying. Well, I say fun. I don’t bother putting mine onto lolly sticks any more, because I did that once and ended up crying about a piece of Polystyrene. But sticks or not, they’re always a crowd pleaser.
Hilariously, her cake pop recipe includes 300g of ‘leftover cake’. Guess how much the ruined cake weighed, once I’d eaten several slices and declared it too boring for consumption? This is probably the first time in my life I have ever been in possession of leftover cake.
300g leftover(!) sponge cake – broken into fine crumbs
100g unsalted butter - softened
200g icing sugar - sifted
50g dark chocolate - melted
200g chocolate orange buttons
1. Forget to put sugar into an otherwise perfectly good pumpkin cake
2. Cream the butter, dark chocolate and icing sugar, before slowly mixing in the cake crumbs to make a sticky paste
3. Shape the paste into balls, place on a lined baking tray, chill in the fridge for around one hour
4. Remove from the fridge and pierce the balls with lolly sticks. Or not, your choice.
5. Melt the chocolate orange buttons and use it to coat the cake balls. Leave on a lined baking tray to set. Decorate to look vaguely like pumpkins.
If you do fancy carving your pumpkin, but can’t be bothered with the whole blending and straining debacle of making puree, just chop it up, remove the peel, and cook in much the same way you would a butternut squash. I made a basic pea & parmesan risotto, before adding sautéed pumpkin chunks and bacon, and a big spoonful of mustard.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
No pumpkin party would be complete without the seeds. Wash them off and roast in the oven for 20 minutes on 150°C until they’re dry. Toss the seeds generously in butter, sea salt, black pepper, paprika and sugar. Cook on 180°C for 10 more minutes. Serve with your favourite beverage.
Images © Kate Diamond for BitchBuzz.com