Not only that, but as you may have read last week I started my new internship in the midst of an 'Office Great British Bake Off' competition. Yes, it was a match made in heaven. What's the best way to charm your co-workers? Through their belly. In fact, I find it's the best way to charm anyone, don't you?
Not one to shy away from competition or a chance to get my apron on, I awkwardly balanced a pumpkin on my knees all the way home whilst on the bus, where it proceeded to sit outside for a few days getting rained on, or 'cleaned by nature' as I like to think.
If you fancy doing this bake for a bit of fun, or want to bookmark it ready for an eye-catching Halloween table centrepiece next year go ahead! It's actually a lot easier than it looks!
1 medium sized carving pumpkin (preferably a stout, round one)
250g butter, softened
200g light brown sugar
3 large eggs
250g self-raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
zest 2 oranges
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground ginger
100g carrots, grated
100g courgette, grated
1. First off, carefully cut a large hole in the top of your pumpkin and scoop out the pumpkin guts (technical term, of course), as I find it's easier to cut down to size once you've emptied it. Next, carefully slice the top quarter off the pumpkin, trying to keep it level all around. Try and get as much as possible out of the pumpkin.
2. Next, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, bicarbonate of soda, orange zest, and mixed spice together in a bowl. No need to be fussy about it, just give it a good battering!
3. After grating your carrot and courgette (I like to use the chunky part of the grater as it means your batter will be nice and colourful!), stir the vegetables into the mixture, again - no fuss needed!
4. At this stage you probably should set your oven to 175 degrees celsius. Once you've done that, prepare a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
5. Pour your mixture into the pumpkin shell, filling it up approx. two thirds of the way. (It will rise... eventually!) If you have any extra left over, make a few cupcakes.
6. Pop your cake in the centre of the oven and cook at 175 degrees for 50 minutes. After that, turn the oven down to 160 degrees and cook for a further 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Now, these timings are simply what worked for me, as after an initial miscalculation and a totally raw cake, I realised that the pumpkin produces a lot of water when in the oven and so you will likely have to double or even triple your usual sponge baking time. For the last half an hour I checked every ten minutes, which I would definitely recommend! Keep giving it a wiggle and stick a skewer in until it comes out clean.
Voila! A success! I really wasn't sure if this was going to work, and had some worrying 'Bake Off' style moments sat in front of the oven, but it came out a trooper in the end! I really like the way the pumpkin looks like it's wearing a snazzy leather jacket - he's a cool customer my cake.
The cake rises really nicely and when cut into is moist almost to the point of wetness around the sides. Now, I wasn't too keen on this feature, as I realised halfway through eating a slice that I'm not actually a fan of pumpkin, but I have since been informed that the pumpkin flavour that seeps into the cake is actually quite nice. Each to their own! The spices and vegetables used give it quite an 'autumny' feel, with the ginger leaving a nice warm feeling in your belly. Could this be a PSL cake? Hmmm just about...
I'd made a cream cheese frosting before falling into bed the night before, and quickly iced it up in the morning before work.
The thought of getting this in one piece to work on the commuter train made me want to cry a bit, but this thing is pretty robust as far as cakes go! It didn't budge once.
I've never tried to tap into the seasons for baking inspiration before, but I'm so pleased I did. Pinterest would have you believe you're the only one not having squash for breakfast, lunch and tea.
Have you tried anything creative food-wise with seasonal vegetables? I'd love to add some more recipes to my list before winter purges the fields and strips the trees.