I had the most gorgeous day today. Unfortunately my darling husband is sick in bed, but Emilia and I had a lovely time, mostly in the garden - weeding and getting the garden ready for a long, hot summer in the Bay.
Happily, right now I have soil under my nails, shoulders that are slightly sunburnt, and muscles aching that have been dormant too long. It feels wonderful to be waking up my body and my garden for a new season.
We are novice gardeners. But we want to be connected to what we eat, to experience the process of giving to the earth and the earth giving back to us - so we are learning and having fun.
When we bought our little house in February we became heirs to a huge vegetable garden laden with produce: plump, vibrant red tomatoes, crisp, luscious celery, and lovely, orange butternut squashes to name a few. The previous owners had taken great care of the garden, and we were able to enjoy the vegetables of their labour.
I particularly enjoyed the butternut squash. Pumpkin of any variety is one of my favourite ingredients to cook with. It's mild flavour lends itself to any dish - savoury or sweet. So the fact that the garden produced a large crop of butternuts brought me much delight. I took great pleasure in watching each one grow, and harvesting it as soon as maturity was reached. By the end of March, our garage was full of them.
And our tummies thanked us for pumpkin roasted, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie - and pumpkin cake.
I'm very proud of this cake. I must have tried ten different combinations of flours and ratios and this result was the one I was after. The buckwheat flour brings an earthy note, while the ground almonds bring their signature smooth density. Where carrot cake would feature sweet sultanas, this cake features zingy diced dried apricot. And the lemon cream cheese icing is a punchy combination of citrus and creaminess - just what the cake needs to tie it all together.
This is a low sugar, high protein and healthy fats cake. Subtly sweetened with floral clover honey, it is refined sugar free. Using buckwheat and almond flours, it is also grain free; and by using that miracle food - Coconut oil - it is also dairy free. A perfect school lunch box treat or morning tea with the girls.
This is a cake that feels indulgent but is nourishing. Good for body and soul.
Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
1C ground almonds
1C buckwheat flour
4 large eggs, whisked
1C pumpkin puree*
1t baking soda
1 1/2 T ground cinnamon
1 1/2 T allspice
2t ground ginger
1/2t cardamom (optional)
Zest of one large lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1/2C + 2T coconut oil, melted (or coconut cream)
1/3C raw clover honey (or rice malt syrup for less fructose)
3/4C dried apricots, diced
Pumpkin seeds, to decorate
1. Grease and line a 20cm spring-form cake tin and preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda and spices.
3. Pour in the eggs, honey, pumpkin and dried apricots and stir quickly to just combine.
4. Add the coconut oil and stir until well combined. (It will likely still be warm from melting, so it is added separately so as not to cook the eggs.)
5. Pour mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until cake springs back when pressed and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Each oven is different so keep an eye on the timing.
6. When cooked, remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Allow to cool completely on a drying rack.
7. When cool, ice and decorate with pumpkin seeds and extra grated lemon rind. Lovely served with tart, full fat greek yoghurt.
Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
250g cream cheese, room temperature
Juice of a large lemon
2T raw clover honey
1. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Using an electric hand beater or blender, whizz ingredients together until a smooth icing has formed.
This cake will keep for 5-7 days. I think it is absolutley delicious and I'd love to know what you think of it!
*To make pumpkin puree: preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius, cut pumpkin into large chunks and place on a roasting tray with half a cup of water. Bake in the oven for half an hour or until fork-tender. Blitz in a food processor, et voila! Pumpkin puree. I store it in 3/4 C servings in the freezer, ready to be used.