This is my fourth Halloween here in London, and man, have I been the opposite of happening! I was busy sobbing from leaving Singapore in 2007, so Halloween was non-existent. In 2008, we went to a Halloween house party in 2008, dressed as policewoman and man-on-the-run. The idea is M dug his way out of prison with a spoon, and I went hot on his heels. M got his jailbird uniform from Camden at about £25 and I bought police accessories for only £5 and stuck them on my clothes. This was my first and possibly only Halloween costume party, ever.
Halloween 2009 was supposed to be a house party again, but ooops, poor me fell ill and we skipped!
This year, I morph from policewoman to a home baker covered in pumpkin cake batter. How unfortunate, I could pass off looking like a slave now, no costumes needed! Anyways, we both think we’re a little old for costume parties, so we are settling for a quiet cooking weekend instead (paella, pintxos night etc). I didn’t want to pass on Halloween just like that, so I went out and picked out some cute pumpkins, and did what I do best – bake!
Nothing very adventurous here in terms of recipe, but a spiced cake, and some pumpkin-wrestling are firsts for me. Since I didn’t have a clue on spiced cakes, I turned to The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for trusty recipes. This book has never ever failed me. I tweaked the carrot cake recipe by substituting carrots with pumpkin purée, adding a little nutmeg and all-spice, and omitting the ground ginger. Also turned down the sugar volume on the cream cheese frosting because M and I are terrified of frosting that is too sweet. The result? An incredibly moist cake gently perfumed with cinnamon and nutmeg!
I also had more fun with the food styling and photography, this time shooting on a black table top to convey autumn vibes and the deep dark mood of Halloween. I thought my cream-coloured table cloth would spell summer too much; besides, the colours contrasted nicely with the dark table top.
Pumpkin & Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)
For the cake:
300g soft light brown sugar
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste
300g pumpkin, blitzed in food processor to form purée
100g shelled walnuts, chopped roughly (Set aside extra to decorate)
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line two 8-inch (diameter) round baking tins with baking parchment.
2.Beat sugar, eggs, vanilla paste and oil in a large bowl till well-combined.
3. Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, spices. Add gradually to egg mixture from Step 2, and beat till well-combined.
4. Stir in pumpkin purée and chopped walnuts.
5. Pour mixture into baking tins and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and sponge bounce back when touched.
6. Cool cakes slightly in tins before unmoulding onto cooling rack.
7. When the cakes are completely cooled, sandwich and frost all over with cream cheese icing and decorate with walnuts.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g icing sugar
230g full-fat cream cheese, cold
1. Beat butter and sugar till well combined.
2. Beat in cream cheese until frosting is light and fluffy. Sandwich and frost!
Hope you will enjoy making this! Feel free to leave comments!
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