Christmas is only a few days away and I’m probably feeling the least Christmassy, most anxiety-ridden in my entire life. Judging by my pretty erratic, limited posting on here and instagram it’s probably quite evident that uni life is taking up 90% of my time now. (PSA: this is going to get a tad ranty and is just so I can get it off my chest. Just scroooollll on down to the last paragraph if you wanna skip that).
It’s not enough that we had 3 hefty pieces of coursework during the first semester and reading for a literature review due next semester, on top of that there are 3 exams to be revising for in January. I know I’m doing a science degree at redbrick, Russell group university and I’m in my second year but fuck, dudes, this is hard. It’s frustrating knowing that, whilst my degree is requiring this much money, time and concentration, the title ‘nutritionist’ isn’t protected and nutritional misinformation has been spread by so many ‘wellness’ preachers pretending to know what they’re talking about. (So please if you ever visit a nutritionist, make sure they have ‘BSc’ or ‘Ma’ or ‘PhD’ next to their title and that they have studied at a reputable university. An easy thing to look out for is whether the course is accredited by the Association for Nutrition.).
Ugh. I’ve got a lot of food rants bottled up inside of me (hello saturated fats, grains, super foods, clean eating…) but I want to properly read around the subjects so I can cite when/if I do post about these topics. At the mo, I don’t have time to do that. I also realise that people get sick of reading rants when all they want is to scroll to the bottom of the page and print a recipe!
Lastly, I think it’s important for me to be writing my thoughts down somewhere cos hey this is my personal blog, not a food magazine.
Now that that’s done – let’s talk cake! A deliciously easy, party-appropriate cake. I’ve previously baked up a caramel + gingerbread layer cake which was fancy and delicious but also quite time consuming and HUGE. This is more understated and simple to make, leaning away from spicy gingerbread to softer pumpkin-spice mix warmth. It is quite rich too so would probably make an excellent sheet cake, cut into bite-sized squares – might make for excellent for New Years Eve party canapé desserts..?
For the cake:
- 85 g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 100 g (1/2 cup not packed) brown sugar
- 2 tbsp (50g) black treacle or molasses
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground clove
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp salt
- 125 g (1/2 cup) pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda, (baking soda)
- 150 g (1 1/4 cups) wholemeal plain flour
For the caramel:
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 20 g butter
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 2 tbsp milk
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 100 ml double cream
- 4 tbsp greek yogurt
- pecans and fudge chunks for decoration, , optional
Make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) then grease a 6-inch cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
- In a medium pot, melt the butter, sugar and treacle together over a medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat.
- Mix in the ginger, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, salt and pumpkin puree until smooth.
- Quickly beat in the egg then fold in the bicarbonate of soda and flour until just combined.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Tip out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
Make the caramel:
- In a light-coloured frying pan or pot (so you can see the colour change), heat the sugar and water over a medium heat - stir only just until the sugar has dissolved then put the spoon down and do NOT stir the mixture until instructed.
- Keep cooking the sugar whilst tilting and swirling the pan. It'll begin to change colour around the edges from clear to light yellow to a deeper golden-amber.
- Once it reaches this darker colour turn the heat down to low and add the butter to the pan - step back as it may spit a bit when you do this. Now pick up the spoon and stir in the cream and milk until smooth. Take off the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Leave to cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the double cream until it starts to thicken. Add the yogurt and keep whisking until you get soft peaks.
- Spread the cream over the cooled cake, drizzle with the caramel and decorate with the pecans and fudge chunks (if using). Serve immediately (it's very rich!). Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.