Pumpkin cake with lime and almonds

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I have been fucking remiss! Doubly so, since despite not blogging for a couple of months now, I have in fact had a recipe photographed and stored up since August. And it’s SUCH a perfect August cake. Not that you can’t eat a delicious citrus-frosted vegan pumpkin cake in spring, just that it’s so much more an autumn/winter thing. Luckily, it’s October – month of the pumpkin! Well, just ignoring the whole Halloween is supposed to be in autumn deal. In any case this cake is still – despite all the flaws of its maker – perfect!

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August is my mum’s birthday and so to commemorate the day my family all came over to my place to crash on the floor for a night and eat cake. Actually, Tom was supposed to be in charge of cake, but I received a text message from him the day before saying he accidentally got day drunk instead.

So proud.

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Actually though, I understand that sometimes you need/want to get day drunk. Sometimes you also have to make emergency cake as a result of someone else’s day drunk. Is cool.

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Anyway, the cake turned out pretty lovely. It’s based on a recipe for pumpkin slice I’ve been using for so many years I’ve forgotten where it came from. The icing I made up myself. The original slice uses just lemons and icing sugar for frosting, but I sincerely believe limes > lemons. For guacamole, for gin, for everything. Pfft, “lemons”.

(Shh. No, Actually I like lemons too, but limes rule so much more)

Anyway, now it’s October (month of pumpkins! – sort of) and since I last blogged I’ve done a huge presentation for uni, participated in a writer’s festival and moved house. And on Halloween it’s my birthday. Which is both horrifying and sweet. So here is a cake that I dare you to not want to eat right now. Along with a promise to be less remiss next time something like this is lurking in my to do list.

IMG_0762IMG_0755❤ These dorks.

Ingredients:

Cake:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
4 cups S.R. Flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp salt

Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup coconut oil

For on top:
slivered almonds

Combine sugar, pumpkin, oil and vanilla then add remaining ingredients. Cook in moderate oven 1-1.5 hrs OR until middle of cake springs back when touched. Combine coconut oil and icing sugar. Stir until smooth. Then add lime juice. Allow cake to cool. Ice cake. Dry fry almonds or roast in oven. Arrange on top of cake. Eat cake.

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Lime, passionfruit and coconut celebration cake

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Last Tuesday it was my friend East’s birthday. So Patrick decided to invite him over to our place for dinner. Which, obviously, I had to cook. But that’s OK, Patrick was in charge of wine and there was going to be plenty of it. Also, cheeese. With four Es. Courtesy of April.

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I’d recently acquired a large amount of passionfruit from my mum’s vine, which I’d turned into passionfruit curd. In addition to this there was still a surplus of limes going on in my fruit bowl. Putting two and two together (or as the case may be, putting birthday and curd and limes together), I set out to create a cake that would utilise all these ingredients.
IMG_7374Starting with this recipe here I baked the actual cake part, substituting coconut cream for the buttermilk and adding the rind of some limes. When it was cooled I cut the cake in half horizontally and spread a layer of curd in there.IMG_7583

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Then I iced the bastard. I even did a crumb layer, which is explained in the directions below if you don’t know what it is.

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When dinner had been demolished, we turned down the lights, turned off the music and lit the candles. We sang a somewhat feeble three-voiced happy birthday and East blew out the candles.

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Then he cut the cake into enormous slices that no-one could finish.

And, inevitably, there was this:

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And then this:

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Perhaps soon I will share the recipe for the dinner I made. For now, start thinking of a reason to make this cake!

Ingredients:
250g butter, softened
2 cups caster sugar
4 large (or in my case 5 small) eggs
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup coconut cream
rind of two limes

About 1/2 cup passionfruit curd (recipe here will make about twice as much as you need)

For icing:
250g spreadable cream cheese, left at room temperature for at least an hour
3tbsp lime juice
1 1/4 cups icing sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs. Next, gradually stir in flours. Add coconut cream and lime rind. Bake for 1 1/2-2 hours or until firm when jiggled. Take cake out of oven to cool. When cake is cool, take a knife and mark a ring around the cake horizontally. Slice gradually through cake, turning as you cut, so that you have two layers of cake. Spread cool passionfruit curd between layers. To make icing simply combine lime juice and icing sugar. Then stir in softened cream cheese. Ice cake with a thin layer of frosting and put whole cake in fridge for half an hour or in freezer for ten minutes. Then ice with a more generous coat. Decorate as desired.

Beer bean stuffed chillies

 

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When life gives you ten limes for $2, make a whole bunch of mexican food. That’s what I always say. And by “always” I mean, just now. Because I did find myself in the situation of ten limes, some of which I had kinda planned on making into preserved limes before I realised how fast I was actually going through them. Especially once I started putting them in drinks.

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Here’s where these bad boys come in, because guess what? They’re giant green chillies perfect for stuffing withcheese and beans. And they were 50c each at the markets the other morning. I didn’t have my prime decision-making face on that day, but when I saw these I got excited, because I’d been wanting to try out a recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook that called for just this sort of thing. And limes. At least one of them.

I went and stood over the chillies, scooping four into my hands before pausing confusedly to look up at my sister. “I don’t know how many to get”, I explained, peppers spilling pitifully from my fingers (like larger, greener, gnarlier fingers on a large, green negligent hand).

“Six,” she said, “get six”. Which was actually the correct number for the recipe, as it turns out. Hurruh! I freaking love the markets. Take that giant hand!

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The only problem with this recipe is it can be kinda difficult to find these ingredients in Australia outside of a capital city. Even black beans can be hard to get your hands on. The point is: I have no idea what kind of chillies I used. I should have asked, but I was vague and fatigued and overwhelmed with market decisions. I’m sure you’ll forgive me. Banana chillies or whatever large chilli variety you can get your hands on are probably fine. Also, while I have seen canned chipotle somewhere in Sydney, I don’t remember where. I already had a small red chilli hanging around from mum’s garden, so went with that. The cheese I changed to more widely available cheddar, Jack cheese and cojita being pretty scarce hereabouts. Also, I added cumin, because I can’t help myself.

Below is my version of the recipe, which I’ve more or less translated into common Australian ingredients and measurements. And while this version differs form the original, these babies are still terribly delicious. You’d be awfully silly not to squirrel this recipe away in your brain, so that when the perfect chance arises to cook things inside other things you don’t miss it. And while you’re at it make a note to check out The Sprouted Kitchen for more whole food kitchen wizardry.

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Ingredients:
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small to medium red chilli, chopped (with half the seeds removed if you’re chilli-sensitive)
250g dried black beans
375ml of dark mexican beer (I accidentally used a light-coloured beer and it was fine)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 large chillies
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
Soak beans in large bowl of water for 6-12 hours.

Add olive oil to a large pan on medium heat. Saute onion, chilli and garlic until onion is just softened. Add cinnamon and cumin and fry for a few moments until fragrant. Drain the beans and add to pan along with 2.5 cups of water. Stir and bring to simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until the beans are just cooked. Add beer and cook for another 20 minutes, until beer has evaporated/been sucked up by the beans. Salt to taste and set beans aside.

Cut a slit down the middle of each chilli. Get rid of all the gunk inside: seeds, membrane, what-have-you. Set the chillies on a tray and use a brush or your hands to cover each in a small amount of olive oil. Preheat either the barbecue or actual grill or griddle to medium-high heat. In a bowl mix the cheese and lime juice. Stuff each chilli first with a few tablespoons of beans, then with a handful of cheese. Cook until the cheese is and chilli are both blistery, about 7 minutes. Then either turn down your grill/griddle or move to a less-hot part of the barbecue. Cook for another 10 minutes or until chillies are perfectly soft.

Serve with whatever mexican extras you fancy. I’ve gone with chunky guacamole, below.

 

For chunky guacamole:

Ingredients:
1 avocado
10 cherry or grape tomatoes cut into quarters
handful of fresh coriander
tbsp lime juice
salt

Directions:
In a bowl squish your avocado. Add quartered cherry tomatoes and coriander. Stir in lime juice. Add a few grinds of salt to taste.