Pumpkins are beautiful, interesting and varied, and they will adorn your home, adding warmth and natural elegance throughout the fall and winter holidays. I counted 115 gorgeous pumpkins in the October issue of my favorite magazine, Victoria, before giving up on page 50, overcome by all the autumnal beauty.
Here at myteaplanner.com, Kathleen and I have shared many pumpkin recipes in our various tea menus and blogs. In the “Afternoon Tea and the Four Seasons” section, you will find Kathleen’s recipe for lovely and luscious Pumpkin Cream Tartlets in our “An Autumn Afternoon Tea” menu. In “A Calendar of Tea Parties,” we include our family recipe for Pumpkin Bread in our “September Ozark Farm Harvest Tea.” I also offer this all-time favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe in my October 2018 Blog, “Glorious October.” In the December calendar section of the website you will find a beautiful recipe for Steamed Pumpkin Pudding with Cranberries in the “Christmas Tea” menu. In “Afternoon Tea for Special Occasions,” your grandparents will love our Pumpkin Cheesecake in the menu for “A Tea for Our Elders,” because who doesn’t love Pumpkin Cheesecake? And finally, I shared my tried and true recipe for Pumpkin Praline Pie in my November 2016 blog, “Giving Thanks.”
While we have given you our best recipes for tartlets, quick bread, steamed pudding, cheesecake and pie, all filled with pumpkin, we have not yet offered you a good old Pumpkin Cake recipe. That changes today, as I help you welcome October with two easy to make pumpkin cake recipes, one from scratch and one from a cake mix. Also, we embrace the idea that foods made from pumpkin can be savory as well as sweet. After all, pumpkin is a vegetable, not a fruit, and almost everyone has tasted the warm, comforting flavor of Pumpkin Soup. In our October “A Tea to Honor Our Ancestors “menu, we celebrate Dia de los Muertos, the festive Mexican version of Halloween, by including both savory and sweet versions of the delightful little hand pies, Pumpkin Empanadas.
My contribution to the world of savory pumpkin cuisine is a variation of one of America’s favorite comfort foods—Macaroni and Cheese. I hope you will enjoy my recipe for Pumpkin-Herb Macaroni and Cheese. And may October be a time of glory and joy for you and your families, enhanced by the pleasure of eating and decorating with autumn’s quintessential vegetable, the humble pumpkin.
Perhaps I should call this dish “Scarborough Fair Macaroni and Cheese,” as it contains “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,” a phrase familiar to vintage Simon and Garfunkel fans. It also contains pumpkin. Herbs, pumpkin, pasta and warm, melted cheese—this is the essence of a hearty autumn meal. While recipes for Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese abound on the internet, most of them simply add a cup of canned pumpkin to the standard cream sauce, pasta and cheese recipe. I thought it would be fun to make a recipe more like a savory Pumpkin Pie, modeled on the classic quiche concept with pasta instead of pie crust. Fresh herbs and the addition of petite peas add extra flavor and a pop of texture to this dense and creamy dish. Wouldn’t this be delicious at an Oktoberfest potluck, served with bratwurst? Or, next month you could make it as a Thanksgiving side dish to complement the turkey and cranberry sauce.
- 1 pound of elbow macaroni or other pasta, such as campanelle or penne, cooked al dente and rinsed in a colander
- Kosher salt and a few drops of olive oil for the pasta
- 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
- 2 cups grated Raclette cheese, divided
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped flat Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup evaporated milk (from a 12 fluid-ounce can)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- 1 package frozen petite peas (16 ounces)
- Butter for the pan
- 2 bouquets garnis, each comprised of 1 sprig Italian flat-leaf parsley, 1 sprig fresh sage, 1 sprig fresh thyme and 1 sprig fresh rosemary (A bouquet garni is a bunch of fresh herbs, usually tied together with kitchen string and tossed into a stockpot of broth or soup to add extra flavor. The bouquet garni is removed before serving the meal. For this recipe, the herbs do not need to be tied together.)
Preheat oven to 350°F
- Cook the pasta: Bring about 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large stockpot, adding about ½ teaspoon of kosher salt if you wish. Add the pasta and return to a boil, stirring as necessary. Following package directions, cook until pasta is just al dente, or slightly less, as the pasta will also be baked. Pour the pasta into a colander and rinse gently with cool water, adding a few drops of olive oil if you wish to prevent sticking. Let the pasta continue draining in the sink.
- Butter a large casserole dish generously and set aside. Grate the Cheddar, Jarlsberg and Raclette chesses into a large bowl, placing the second cup of Raclette into a small bowl. Set the small bowl of Raclette aside and sprinkle ¼ cup of flour over the grated cheeses in the large bowl. Gently lift and stir with a large fork to distribute the flour evenly.
- Finely chop the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, and add the herbs to the cheese mixture. Combine all of the remaining ingredients, except the frozen peas and the two bouquet garnis, into the large mixing bowl with the herbs and cheeses and mix thoroughly, using an electric mixer at low speed or a whisk.
- Gently pour the pasta into the prepared casserole dish. Add the peas to the colander and rinse gently with cool water to remove any ice crystals and separate the peas. The peas do not need to be cooked or defrosted. Add the peas to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl and pour gently over the pasta. Stir with a rubber spatula to combine, being careful not to break the pasta and making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Place the first four sprigs of herbs over the pasta and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly. Carefully open the oven and remove the herb sprigs, which will look dry and burned. Sprinkle the remaining cup of grated Raclette cheese over the casserole dish to cover the macaroni completely.
- Bake for another 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Place the second set of four fresh herb sprigs over the macaroni and cheese as decoration and serve while hot or at room temperature.
- This dish can be made in advance, cooled, covered, refrigerated and rewarmed
I have made this delicious and easy Pumpkin Cake many times over the years, and it has never failed to please my family members and friends. The Cream Cheese Icing is the perfect complement to the warm, earthy flavor of pumpkin and cinnamon. While I referred to this as a “from scratch” cake, technically it is not because I do not start with an actual pumpkin. Years ago, I toyed with using fresh pumpkin for cakes and pies. After hours of sawing, scooping and handling stringy, slimy pulp and hundreds of seeds, I concluded that canned pumpkin is the autumn baker’s best friend. This classic cake is designed to be made in a ten-inch angel food or Bundt pan with the lovely creaming icing dripping over the top. Feel free to add orange sprinkles, whole toasted almonds, or even (gasp!) candy corn on top if children will be enjoying this cake for Halloween.
For the Cake:
- 3 cups flour (plus more for dusting the pan)
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
- 3 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- 1 can pumpkin (15-16 ounces)
- 1 cup toasted chopped almonds
- Cooking spray for the pan
- 6 ounces (two 3-ounce packages) cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons whole milk
Preheat oven to 350° F
- Make the cake: Spray the angel food or Bundt pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the sugar and cooking oil until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat for about 1 minute after adding each egg. Scrape the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
- Alternately add the pumpkin and flour mixture in 3 or 4 additions, beating only until pumpkin and flour are no longer visible after each addition. Do not overbeat.
- Stir in the chopped toasted almonds with a rubber spatula to distribute evenly. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a thin knife or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Do not allow the cake to cool in the pan longer than 15 minutes. Run a thin knife carefully between the cake and the inside of the pan to facilitate removing the cake. Using oven gloves, carefully remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cake plate or pedestal. Cool the cake completely before adding the icing.
- Make the icing: Combine the softened cream cheese, vanilla and pinch of salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat on low speed with an electric mixer until incorporated. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of milk until the icing reaches a thick spreading consistency, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add 1 more teaspoon of milk if the icing is too thick.
- Using a rubber spatula or table knife, quickly spread the icing over the top of the cake, gently guiding it to drip more or less evenly over the top and part way down the sides of the cake. The top of the cake should be covered with icing, but do not attempt a perfectly symmetrical effect with the icing that drips over the sides. Decorate if you wish with colored sprinkles or serve immediately in its simple autumnal splendor.
For this yummy and extra-easy Pumpkin Spice Cake, I relied on two trusted old recipes, both of which include canned pumpkin and spice cake mix: Pumpkin Pecan Cake from the Nordic Ware pamphlet entitled “The Original Bundt Recipe Collection,” and Lemon Glazed Pumpkin Spice Cake from the November 1976 issue of Woman’s Day. (Yes, when I find a good recipe, I keep it forever!) I omitted the pecans from the Nordic Ware recipe and included instead the golden raisins and lemon glaze from the Woman’s Day recipe. This hybrid cake can be made in a Bundt pan, a 13” by 9” rectangular baking pan or as cupcakes. However, since Kathleen gave me a beautiful fluted mini cake pan that produces twelve adorable little cakes, I had to go there, especially since I was expecting overnight guests, and I thought these warm pumpkin dessert treats would also be wonderful at breakfast as Pumpkin Raisin Spice Muffins. I ended up with 12 mini cakes and 12 muffins, all very much appreciated.
Spice cake mixes are sometimes difficult to find in the grocery store, as I discovered when I set out to make this recipe. I had to improvise with a boxed yellow cake (Duncan Hines,) to which I added: 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. If you are using a spice cake mix, include the ingredients as listed below.
- 1 box spice cake mix
- 1 package vanilla instant pudding (3 ¾ ounces)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup golden raisins (or dried cranberries)
- Cooking spray for the pan
- Flour for dusting the pan
- Juice and grated peel of 1 large lemon
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 10-12 cup Bundt pan
- 13” by 9” rectangular baking pan
- 2 cupcake pans with paper baking cups
Preheat Oven to 350°F
- Spray the pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour. Or fill two cupcake pans with 24 cupcake papers. Spray the interiors of the papers lightly. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, combine and beat the first 7 ingredients (cake mix, pudding mix, cinnamon, pumpkin, oil, eggs and water) for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed and fold the golden raisins into the batter to distribute evenly.
- Pour the batter into the pan or cupcake papers and bake for 40-50 minutes for a 10-12 cup Bundt pan, 30 minutes for a 13” by 9” rectangular pan or 15-22 minutes for cupcakes. Times may vary depending on your oven or the type of pan you are using. Test with a wooden skewer by inserting it into the center of the pan or cupcake. If no crumbs, or only a few moist crumbs adhere, the cakes are done. Cool on wire racks. If making a Bundt cake, carefully remove it to a cake plate or pedestal using oven gloves after 10-15 minutes.
- While the cake bakes, make the lemon glaze. Grate the peel from a fresh lemon into a medium sized bowl. Squeeze the lemon and add the juice, removing all the seeds. Add the powdered sugar and stir until the mixture forms a spreading consistency. Add more powdered sugar or a few drops of water until you are satisfied with the flavor and texture.
- Spoon and spread the glaze over the warm cake or cupcakes. Place the cupcakes on a large piece of waxed paper before glazing, as the glaze may drip. Serve immediately, or store covered or in an airtight container overnight at room temperature.