I promised this recipe quite a few days ago. This week however, was a blur, far too busy for my liking, as life sometimes is. My little Haruki is down and out with a cold and super needing of my time and attention, I was called in to do some last minute teaching and together with the last checks of my book, safe to say, something had to give. Unfortunately it was the pumpkin cake, which I know some were waiting on.
Over the past few years Nori and I have become rather deft at juggling our work, personal commitments and caring for Haruki. This means though that whole family time is rare – sometimes it sadly feels like we are ships passing in the night. For me, cooking has alway been about firstly sharing food with loved ones, but also a way to restore and be in thought. Since having Haruki, this has been the main way I stay grounded and be just with myself in brief quiet moments. Although it wasn't the only way I stayed on top of things when Haru was little, it really helped me and continues to keep me feeling, well, me!
Somehow though, our lives seem busier than ever right now. We tend to do this, have rather intense periods of work, realise it's not exactly conducive to the life we want, decide we need a holiday, go on said holiday, make some serious changes in our day-to-day living until we do it all again. Maybe that's just life? I'm not too sure.... So Japan in a few weeks. This will result in a Japan guide coming in the next few months full of my favourite places in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka plus some more Japanese recipes coming to OSTRO. It will be my fourth trip to Japan and about time I let you in on my Japan favourites. In the meantime it's slices of cake when we can sneak a coffee together, and if we're lucky, a meal.
Soaking up all that Autumn is giving us right now means pumpkins. Whole, beautifully mottled, motley pumpkins. We've been roasting them, braising them, putting them in pancakes, in gnocchi, in gyoza! Of course I had to make a cake too. This cake is very simple, stunning to look at and very good eating.
Makes one 22cm loaf
350g pumpkin, cut into 2cm pieces
1tsp ground cinnamon
1-2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
180g brown sugar
1tsp vanilla extract or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
150ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
100g icing sugar, sifted
juice of 1/2- 1 lemon
thyme sprigs, to serve
Preheat oven to 180C. Arrange the pumpkin on a baking tray and sprinkle over the cinnamon and drizzle with the olive oil. Use your hands to coat the pumpkin well. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until tender and coloured. Set aside to cool then mash by hand or blitz in food processor until smooth.
Meanwhile, grease line a 22cm loaf pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined and thick. Pour in the olive oil and whisk to combine. Stir in the cooled pureed pumpkin. Sieve over the flour and spices and gently stir until everything is incorporated.
Pour into the loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool briefly in the tin then turn onto a rack to complete cooling.
Meanwhile, for the icing, tip the icing sugar into a medium bowl and gradually add the lemon juice until you have the desired consistency. I like it to be more like a glaze, but if you would like a thicker, more opaque icing, add less lemon juice. Top with sprigs of thyme and serve. This cake stays wonderfully moist for 2-3 days after baking.