Autumn for me means cooler nights, russet-hued leaves on the plum trees, and a glut of pumpkins.
I don’t intentionally grow so many pumpkins. They appear from worm casting and compost, little green seedlings that rapidly swell and stretch, smothering anything in their path. This year I harvested lots of grey-blue pumpkins that are a devil to cut. I think they might be Queensland Blues.
I could eat pumpkin every day of the week roasted in olive oil until dark around the edges or served as bright orange soup with a swirl of Greek yogurt and chopped chives, and I adore Lady Flo’s pumpkin scones. But in an attempt to broaden my pumpkin-cooking repertoire I decided to try the following recipe for a pumpkin fruit cake which comes from The CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints, first published in 1936.
As is typical in old recipes, the method given is very brief. I have expanded the method and also clarified the ingredients. For example, in my recipe ‘1 packet mixed fruit’ becomes 750 grams mixed fruit.
The verdict: The pumpkin definitely adds sweetness and moisture to this cake and is a worthwhile addition. If I were to make the cake again I would follow the method of a boiled fruit cake. I would also decorate the top with blanched almonds and glace cherries, and add a marmalade glaze after cooking. You could raise this cake up a notch by adding a slosh of brandy and a dollop of marmalade to the batter, or even a handful of coarsely chopped nuts.
- 40g butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup lukewarm mashed pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
- 750g mixed fruit
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius, fan-forced.
- Grease a deep, round 20 cm cake tin, then line base and sides with a double thickness of brown paper. The brown paper should rise to 5 cm above the sides of the cake tin.
- Cream butter and sugar, then beat in eggs one at a time.
- Stir in pumpkin, syrup, rind and mixed fruit, then sift in flour, spices and salt. Stir until just combined.
- Spoon cake mixture into prepared tin and smooth the top with wettened hands.
- The cake will take about 2 hours to cook but check it from 1 and a half hours by inserting a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean the cake is cooked.
- Cool in the tin covered with foil. This will result in a moister cake.