Recipe #14: Pumpkin Tea Cake

The list was quite short, but pumpkins were directly on the top of the things I detested as a child.  You know, that irrational repulsion that kids create for no rhyme or reason?  That was pumpkins for me – maybe it was the guts?  The smell?  Maybe it was the fact that the only thing I’d ever tried was a pumpkin pie from the grocery store that was from the can and was pretty slimy?  Hmm… I would carve them for Halloween, and even loved scooping out all the slippery pumpkin guts, but eating them?  That’s crazy talk.

It wasn’t until last Thanksgiving when I grew up enough to give pumpkin pie another try.  I insisted that I call the shots, so I baked a pumpkin pie myself.  I roasted the actual pumpkin, which puts me that much closer to the Baking Goddess Dup (Ina Garten and Martha Stewart).  Turns out, I love me some pumpkin pie when it’s done right.

Here we are today, and I’m even excited about baking other things with pumpkin in them.  Although, oddly enough, I recently read that pumpkins were once suggested for removing freckles and curing snake bites.  I must have subconsciously known this as a kid – I like my freckles and I steer clear of snakes, so pumpkins just didn’t make sense.

Mt. Sifted Spices

I know what you’re thinking.  I was just bragging about roasting my own pumpkin and making the purée, and here I am with a can.  I am not above using the good basic purée canned stuff, then spicing it up myself.  In the directions they give the big okay for using store-bought pumpkin purée, so it’s a free pass to save myself a handful of steps. 

You will find an egg shell in roughly 94% the eggs I crack, so using a bowl before incorporating the eggs into the mixing bowl is completely necessary.  And, probably what you’re supposed to do anyways.  

Yet again, another preemptive strike warning to not over-mix the batter.  The last similar warning had me panicked and I found two little pockets of flour in the brownies once I was cutting them up.  No such bad fortune this time!

Cooling right out of the oven.

Before diving into this baking project I had no idea what to really expect from the many tea cakes that you find in this cookbook.  I’d pictured a dense, dry biscuity thing that the Queen of England may nibble on with her afternoon tea.  (I mean that as no disrespect to the Queen, “Sorry, Queen, if you read this.  Nothin’ but love.”)  I even looked into this tea cake conundrum so to provide a good definition for you, readers, but the spectrum of tea cakes is vast, spanning many different explanations in different countries.  Basically, tea cake and coffee cake are the same thing – potato, potato.  (That doesn’t translate to the written word very well.  Potato, Po-tah-to?)  These tea cakes I’ve been making are these super moist loaves of flavorful magic.  Harry Potter, armed with a goblet of fire and a Half-Blood prince at his side, could not conjure up such a perfect treat.

It makes for a lovely breakfast.