Julian loves baking with with pumpkin. Well actually, he likes me to churn out the baked pumpkin goods, with pumpkin pie being our favourite. Over the years, we’ve fine tuned our recipe to exclude sugar, beef up the spices and often we do away with the pastry all together. Our pumpkin pie has become a bit of a pumpkin mousse – and is usually gobbled up within 24 hours.
Lately, I’ve been fiddling around with cakes that have no sugar – no brown sugar, raw sugar, organic sugar, unprocessed sugar, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave and all those other things that I often find in recipes that claim to be sugar free – and if a little bit of sweetness is preferred, I add a ripe banana. Maybe that’s no better than all those other substitutes listed above – but it feels noble to us :-0
I’ve also been knocking out the bulk of the wheat flour and replacing it with almond or hazel meal. I made one of Nigella’s chocolate cakes last weekend – with half the sugar – and half flour/half hazelnut meal and 2 extra eggs for lift and it was fabulous! And eaten within 12 hours. Then this weekend, I tried Nigella’s banana loaf – with no sugar, an extra banana, half flour/half almond meal and 2 extra eggs. It was yummy. Especially with a smear of cold butter.
Yesterday, with another work trip looming (the poor old thing had a 3.30am departure – ugh!) I baked Julian his chosen farewell treat – a pumpkin and blueberry loaf – using the skeleton of Nigella’s banana loaf. Now, it certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste. But if you’d like to try something that is low in wheat flour and only has pumpkin and blueberries for sweetness … well here it is ;-)
Frankly, I think it is all a matter of habit. We are so accustomed to eating incredibly sweet things that when the sweetness is eliminated we instantly recoil. We have found that when you cut that sugar and retrain your tastebuds, well there’s another whole world of delicate flavours and much healthier loveliness out there. And when we do eat a regular biscuit or chocolate – oy! It’s overwhelming!
So … here it is … the Utterly Sugarless Pumpkin and Blueberry Loaf!
Heat your oven to 160 degrees celsius
1. Chop half a butternut pumpkin into 2 inch chunks, cover with water, bring to boil and simmer until tender. (Our butternut half weighed 950g which will result in less once you cut off the rind and remove the seeds and membraney stuff – it doesn’t need to be an exact science) Drain well.
2. Place the drained pumpkin and 125g of butter into the bowl of a mixer and beat on a medium setting until it is pale and frothy. Honestly – you know how it says that in recipes when you’re using butter and sugar and it goes all pale and frothy – well so does butter and pumpkin! Who’d have thought.
3. Add 4 eggs – one at a time – beating constantly on a lowish setting until the mixture is light and smooth.
4. In a separate bowl, combine 90g of self raising flour, 90g of almond meal, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves. Spoon this mix into your eggy pumpkin, with the beaters running on that lowish setting, one spoonful at a time, until it is all combined.
5. Add 125g of fresh blueberries …
… gently, with no beaters – just a wooden spoon. Fold them in so that the blueberries stay whole.
6. Pour the batter into a loaf tin, lined with baking paper. Dust the top with a little extra cinnamon.
7. Bake in your heated oven for 90 minutes – or until your skewer comes out clean. It is a moist cake – so your skewer will never be completely dry but you don’t want it lumpy moist. You know what I mean.
8. Rest in the baking tin until cool – if you try to tip it out warm, it will fall apart. When it is cool, lift it out using the paper as handles. Let it completely cool on the bench top, then place in a covered container in the fridge.
9. Slice and serve cold with a side of yoghurt or double cream. Now you could drizzle this with maple syrup and that would be delicious but it’s also very good – and strangely refreshing – to eat it in all its sugarless glory, and when you hit one of those blueberries – boy oh boy! It’s like a wonderful exploding treasure.
If you give it a whirl – I do hope you enjoy it! We’re totally sold and I’ll be baking that chocolate cake with NO sugar next time. Well except for that one ripe banana :-)