Pumpkins are for carving, I know, but what if like me you just never got round to it? We bought three pretty big pumpkins a week before Halloween and although the kids made a great job of decorating theirs, mine stayed uncut and on the shelf. Insert your own joke here, people!
Rather than leave it there to go off, I started thinking what I could make with it and decided on two of the best ever autumn comfort foods – homemade soup and cake.
When I settled on a recipe for the soup, it needed 800g pumpkin flash and I thought that would easily be the whole thing.
Nope! Only half was needed to make a big pan of soup, leaving me looking up recipes for cake. Not a bad position to be in, eh?
Sam (my eight-year-old) wanted me to make pumpkin pie, having heard about it on Youtube no doubt. But having consulted my friend from San Diego about how to make one and learning she always buys hers from a shop, I decided to go for something a little easier and chose this fresh, slightly spicy and zesty cake.
The cake used up a remaining quarter of the pumpkin so I still have a quarter left over. Currently contemplating either making another cake and feeding it to my sweet-toothed work colleagues, trying something else with it like roasting or mashing it, or just putting it in the bin. I think (or hope) the first option will prevail!
The recipe for pumpkin soup is a really easy one and pretty fast and foolproof. It’s a BBC Good Food recipe, as is the cake one.
Creamy Pumpkin and Lentil soup
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Approx 800g chopped pumpkin flesh, plus the seeds
100g split red lentils
½ small pack thyme, leaves picked, plus extra to serve (I actually used a sprinkle of dried instead)
1l hot vegetable stock
Pinch of salt and sugar
50g crème fraîche, plus extra to serve
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onions and cook until golden then add the garlic, pumpkin, lentils, thyme and hot stock.
Season, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Wash the pumpkin seeds and dry them with kitchen paper. I dried mine overnight as I made the soup in advance. Heat 1tsp oil in a pan and fry the seeds until they jump and pop. Keep stirring them until toasted and then season.
Whizz up the soup with a hand blender or real full size blender, and then stir in the crème fraîche.
Serve topped with a sprinkle of the toasted seeds.
We all loved the soup, and there was plenty of it! The cake on the other hand was an out and out hit! It tastes very much like carrot cake, and has the same cream cheese icing as well. I love this kind of thing because it’s sweet but not too rich and you know, one of your five a day, right?
Halloween pumpkin cake
300g self-raising flour
300g light muscovado sugar
3 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
200g butter, melted
Zest 1 orange
1 tbsp orange juice
500g (peeled weight) pumpkin flesh, grated
For drenching and frosting
200g pack soft cheese
85g butter, softened
100g icing sugar, sifted
zest 1 orange
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm baking or small roasting tin with baking parchment. I used a silicone 22 x 22cm one so didn’t need to line it, I just buttered it and dusted it with flour.
Put the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, sultanas and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine.
Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, then mix with the dry ingredients. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 mins, or until golden and springy to the touch.
Wait until cool then make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and orange zest. Spread over the cake with a palette knife. Remember to keep your cake in the fridge if it lasts more than one sitting!
I hope you love the recipes, do let me know if you try them!