In Which I Present A Recipe
My parents werenâ€™t good cooks. They were very good providers, certainly, and we never worried about having our basic needs met. There was always breakfast, lunch, and dinner and Iâ€™m grateful for it. But they had no love of food, no creative spark. It really wasnâ€™t cooking, what they did. It was heating food. The menu from week to week was dishearteningly similar, and as such it took me a long time to get more adventurous with food and cooking.
Or maybe I learned to do it because man do I ever love baked goods. Cookies, muffins, cake. I would happily eat a fresh-baked brownie sooner than almost anything else in the world. Once I figured out that baking wasnâ€™t so hard really, it just required strict attention to detail, I began doing it more and more.
Unlike cooking, which often rewards improvisation, baking really doesnâ€™t support it unless you know what youâ€™re doing. On a food science level, for a long time, I did not. So I never altered a recipe, just found ones I liked and made them over and over again. Over time, as I learned more about what ingredients played what roles, I got interested. I couldnâ€™t see making up a recipe out of whole cloth, exactly, but I could see playing with one.
And so I did! In fact I turned this recipe around so much I could almost call it entirely my own. Itâ€™s pumpkin pound cake and despite a few things Iâ€™d still like to work out regarding texture, Iâ€™m proud of it. Iâ€™m especially proud because I experimented and made stuff up without fear of failure. Maybe the kitchen is a good ground for that, because I am fortunate enough to be able to afford to make some mistakes.
For health reasons, I removed the eggs. For a friend with a few dietary restrictions, I came up with the vegan version. Both are yummy! I will present the main recipe then afterward I will note the vegan substitutions I made.
PUMPKIN POUND CAKE
Preheat oven to 325 F and grease and flour a Bundt or tube pan (10â€ť).
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sour cream
2 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
(or whatever spice mixture you prefer for pumpkin flavored things)
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer in a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and sour cream. Sift the baking soda and flour together in a separate bowl. Gradually add the sifted flour to the creamed mixture alternating with heaping tablespoons of pumpkin. Add the vanilla and the spices, mix, and pour the mixture into your prepared Bundt or tube pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.
Earth Balance buttery spread instead of butter, maintain proportions
Vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti), maintain proportions
Ensure vegan sugar – turbinado or another â€śevaporated caneâ€ť process, not the kind that uses bones or horseâ€™s hooves or whatever.
Iâ€™ve made this twice now and tweaked it each time. This is a heavy cake – to be expected, itâ€™s pound cake! I believe that the next time I make it I will increase the baking soda to a full teaspoon, since it is the only leavening agent left in without eggs to help give it a lighter texture. The calorie content doesnâ€™t change significantly with the vegan substitutes, and itâ€™s a whopper cake – approximately 480 calories for 1/12th of a cake (a respectable-sized slice out of my Bundt pan). But without egg and, in the vegan version, dairy, the cholesterol and fat are definitely cut.
Because it is pound cake and thatâ€™s what I do with pound cake, I slather mine with chocolate syrup. If you are fond of pound cake but not so much pumpkin, you can substitute unsweetened applesauce for the pumpkin. The proportions are unlikely exactly the same as applesauce is wetter and sweeter than canned pumpkin. If I made a â€śplainâ€ť version I would probably experiment with one cup of applesauce and maybe a little less actual sugar.
Enjoy in good health! If I come up with anything else non-deadly, I will share.