My favorite time of the year has got to be the last quarter. A slew of birthdays, and a hurricane of local and international holidays – Hari Raya, Diwali, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then New Year. The changing of the seasons – albeit a fictitious one in Singapore – makes one reflect on the passage of time, personal or career growth, and reminds us of the keen importance of carpe diem.
I have never been one to celebrate Halloween, but I sure love pumpkins. Combine that with my sister’s and dad’s sexagennial diamond jubilee anniversary of being on earth, I decided to celebrate all three occasions in one with a pumpkin cake – doh?! My inspiration was a jack-o-lantern styled pumpkin bundt cake from Make Fabulous Cakes, which led to an improvisation to a semi-raw form. I based the recipe on a raw almond cardamom bundt cake from Nouveau Raw.
Bundt – pronounced “bunt” cake with a silent “d” – is a beautiful ringed cake baked in a special bundt pan that is ridged to give it its classic look. The pan was invented in the 1950s in Minneapolis by H. David Dahlquist, the founder of Nordic Ware, at the request of Rose Joshua. Rose was a member of a local Jewish organization and wanted dense European-styled cakes similar to the bundkuchen or kugelhopf coffeecakes from her native Germany instead of the light and fluffy American cakes. This required a special pan – one with a hole in the center to allow better heat circulation and penetration to the heavy cake batter. The original kugelhopf pan was made of ceramic, but Dahlquist made the pan out of aluminium and modified the design to introduce folds in the fluted edges. Manufacturers have taken the Bundt pan to new heights with even more intricate patterns and shapes such as castles and flowers. I purchased my 4-cup Bundt pan from Tangs@Orchard, Kaiser brand, for $37. I liked it for its medium size and affordable price (Nordic Ware bundt pans are much larger and the mini versions come in an inversatile set of 4 shapes). While you might think it is a waste of money to purchase a bundt pan for raw desserts since it will not be used for baking, think again. The same heat-conducting properties applies to frozen desserts in that the cake will freeze and thaw more evenly, so no hard chunks of frozen mousse upon serving.
This cake consists of a rich centre of dark chocolate banana avocado fudge encased within a hazelnut cardamom crust, frosted with vanilla spiced pumpkin frosting, and decorated with melted dark chocolate. In short, the main flavours here are pumpkin, dark chocolate, hazelnut, and the classic party of warm spices – if this does not get your mouth watering, I don’t know what will.
This cake consists of a rich centre of dark chocolate banana avocado fudge encased within a vanilla cardamom hazelnut crust, frosted with spiced pumpkin frosting, and decorated with melted dark chocolate cobwebs. In short, the main flavours here are pumpkin, dark chocolate, hazelnut, and the classic party of warm spices – if this does not get your mouth watering, I don’t know what will. Best of all, its vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and so therapeutic to make. A side note on photography tips for Halloween, natural frost gives a very nice cobweb effect, don’t you think?
I also picked up some chocolate knowledge and skills in the making of this cake out of accident. Do you know chocolate can have a seizure? The trigger is water – just a drop of water into your melted chocolate will cause it to agglomerate. This happened because I was not careful with my bain marie. I salvaged the situation my diluting the seized mixture with coconut oil, and it worked! If you would like to know the chemistry behind chocolate seizures, Fooducation has a very fascinating explanation involving hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity.
Everything else you need to know about making this cake is in the recipe below (for 1/2 a bundt pan only). Halloween, Hell-o-ween, Harrow-ween, Ha-RAW-ween; puns aside, enjoy!
- 2 cups hazelnut flour (substitute with almond flour if unavailable)
- 14 Medjool dates, soaked for at least 20 minutes and pitted
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 small (180 grams) avocados, peeled, sliced and frozen
- 2 medium (190 grams) bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
- ⅙ cup raw cacao powder
- 350g pumpkin puree (from ½ large pumpkin, baked)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk to thin
- 100 grams Dark Chocolate (I used Cicada 99 percent dark chocolate)
- Prepare the pan by lightly greasing it with coconut oil and then coat it with hazelnut flour around the inside. Set aside. Be generous in the flour coating. Otherwise, you will face a hard time in removing the cake later on.
- In a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, place the hazelnut flour, pitted dates, oil, vanilla, cardamom and salt. Process on high until the dough comes together, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Set aside about ¾ cup of dough for the base. Press out the remaining dough directly into the prepared bundt pan. (Alternatively, you can choose to roll the dough out onto a parchment paper first before pressing it into the pan for a more even layer.)
- Neaten the edges, nibble the scraps and place in the freezer to set.
- Place the frozen avocados, banana and cacao powder in the freezer and process until smooth.
- Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the processor with a rubber spatula.
- Remove the bundt pan from freezer and scoop out the batter into the pan. Remember to shake it to remove air pockets - or you will get an ugly cake like above! Return to the freezer and allow to set for at least 1 hour.
- Press out the saved dough onto the filling to complete the base.
- If using fresh pumpkin, bake and puree the pumpkin first. Preheat the oven to 170°C/350°F. Lightly oil the pumpkin with coconut oil. Place the pumpkin into the oven and bake for 40 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven and let to cool before blending it in a food processor to form a puree.
- Measure out 350 grams of pumpkin puree and place it in the food processor fitted with the "S" blade, along with the other spices. Process until well-blended, adding non-dairy milk to thin if necessary.
- Remove the cake from freezer. Leave it at room temperature for 15 minutes. To remove the cake from the bundt pan, place a large plate on the pan, invert, and shake vigorously to loosen. Listen for a 'thud.' If the cake does not drop out, place the bundt pan in a bain marie of hot water for 10 minutes and repeat. If all-else fails, loosen the cake from the sides very gently with a palette knife.
- Using a spoon, spread the pumpkin frosting all over the cake.
- For the chocolate decoration, melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Use a chopstick, satay stick or piping bag to decorate as desired.
- Return the cake to the freezer to firm up. Thaw for 10 minutes before serving. Store any extras in the freezer for up to 3 months - though it will hardly last more than a week!