I love pumpkin in both sweet and savoury recipes, and I was delighted to discover that it is often baked into cakes in Italy. The grated flesh gives an earthy depth, sweetness and moistness to the cake as well as being undeniably autumnal. This Torta di Zucca is the cavallo di battaglia of one of my friend’s aunts, who serves it un-frosted, though I love this rich, creamy icing so much I am loathe to part with it, however good the cake may be on its own.
This cake is also a riff on one of the classics of the English tea table – Carrot Cake –which has always been a favourite, and which is so good it deserves to be enjoyed any and everywhere in the world.
Note: you can use any sweet eating pumpkin/squash for this, such as butternut, crown prince or onion squash.
Makes 1 x double-layered cake, Serves 8-10
250g 00 flour
120g butter, at room temperature
70ml light olive/seed oil
230g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp baking powder
zest and juice of 1 orange
200g pumpkin, peeled and finely grated
For the icing:
Zest of 1 orange & 3 tsp juice
180g full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese
100g icing sugar
Prepare two sandwich cake (22cm) tins by buttering them and lining the base with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180.
Soak the grated pumpkin in the orange zest and juice.
Beat the butter and oil together with the sugar until pale, smooth and fluffy. It will be a light caffe latte colour. Add the eggs in one at a time beating well after each addition until they are fully incorporated.
Add the salt, cinnamon, flour, baking powder and finally the pumpkin and orange mix, and stir to combine.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tins, dividing it equally between the two and smoothing the top, and bake in the oven until risen and golden, and a spaghetti skewer comes out clean, around 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the tins and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
Beat the ingredients for the icing together and then spread half over the base of the cake, sandwiching it with the top half, and then the remainder on the top.
Decorate with sprinkles or orange zest, as you see fit. Some slithers of candied orange would also be nic