Pumpkin madness has begun.
Piled high on farmers' market tables, the orange-hued squashes remind shoppers that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Their canned brethren — plain puree and the-too-be-avoided-at-all-costs pie filling — are prominently displayed in end-of-aisle pyramids at the grocery store. And for those not paying attention (or spending time) in food venues, pumpkin spiced drinks now receive top billing at coffee shops.
As much as I like the traditional spices associated with pumpkin pie — nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, sometimes a touch of molasses — I wanted to bake a little pumpkin something-something that veered in a slightly different direction. Regan Daley's recipe for Pumpkin and Orange Breakfast Cake fit the bill. Light and moist, this cake ushers in autumn with a bright citrus note.
I'm tempted to add cranberries in the future, but I stuck to the original recipe this time. Though I'm a coffee girl, I think this would be perfect with a cup of hot tea and the morning paper; a dollop of whipped cream on the side makes it an ideal dessert. And actually, it's delightful served plain, without any garnishes.
I took the lazy route and use canned pumpkin in this recipe, but roasting a pumpkin is easy. Cut a small pumpkin (about 3-4 pounds; use any type other than those sold for jack-o-lanterns) in half, remove the seeds with a spoon, and place in a large cassole dish or jelly roll pan with a few tablespoons of water. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50-60 minutes. Scrape the flesh from the skin and pulse in a food processor until smooth. Most pumpkins are very fibrous, which can ruin the texture of baked goods, so don't skip this step.
Pumpkin and Orange Breakfast Cake with a Fresh Orange Syrup
Adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
3 large eggs, two of them separated
1 cup pumpkin puree, homemade or canned solid-pack pumpkin
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large orange, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
additional unsalted butter for greasing the pan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch fluted tube pan (be sure to get into the nooks to avoid unhappiness later) and set aside.
Cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy. Add the whole egg and 2 yolks - one at a time - to the butter mixture, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat in the pumpkin puree.
Sift the fours, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Add to the batter in 3-4 stages, blending gently after each.
In a small bowl, whop the egg whites to soft peak. Fold them into the batter, then scrape it into the buttered pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the sides begin to pull away from the pan and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the syrup. combine the 0range juice and sugar in a small pan over low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil without stirring for 2 minutes, then use it immediately (pour a few spoonfuls on invidualy slices) or allow the syrup to cool and refrigerate for up the 3 days.
The cake holds for several days at room temperature if well-wrapped, or can be frozen for up to 2 months.