Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin Pudding (Cake), Charlie Brown

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"I've learned there are three things you don't discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin."

-Linus


Pumpkin has been a touchy subject, as of late.  There is, it seems, a shortage.  And while my grandmother always said, "The Great Pumpkin will provide," I fear that this year we'll all have to do with a bit less of the good gourd than in the years past.


I do have a secret to share.  In these hard times of scarcity, I have a recipe that stretches a little pumpkin a long way and does it deliciously.






If you've not tried a pudding cake (and please, for the love of the Great Pumpkin, please don't for a minute think I'm speaking of a Gateaux a la JELLO), it is a lovely surprise of a dessert.  It's at once a light and fluffy cake on top, a soufflé really, and a creamy custard on the bottom.  While this is in and of itself divine, the best part is that the cake batter magically bifurcates itself, splitting into two luscious confections while it bakes.  


gotta keep 'em separated


PUMPKIN PUDDING CAKE

Ingredients:

1/3 cup ap flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (i.e., canned pumpkin)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and ground cloves (feel free to spice up as you see fit)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled (make sure to cool the butter otherwise if it's still hot, it will seize if added to cool buttermilk)

- Preheat to oven to 350º
  
-Prepare 6 ramekins (approximately 1 cup of batter in each) by buttering the insides and coating with sugar.  I like to use little le Creuset pots if I'm getting precious about it, but anything oven safe and the appropriate size will do.

-  In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour and spices.

- In a separate container, whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk, vanilla, pumpkin, and butter.

-Pour the egg mixture into flour mixture and whisk until just combined.  (If you have stubborn lump, pour through a sieve).

-Place egg whites and salt in bowl of electric mixer and whisk until the egg whites are foamy.  Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar and whisk on high until you achieve soft, shiny stiff peaks.  Make sure not to overbeat to the point that the egg whites are dry.

-Add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the pumpkin mixture and whisk, to lighten.

-Add remaining egg whites and gently fold until combined.

-Divide the mixture among ramekins that are already placed in a deep hotel pan or pyrex baking dish.  Make a water bath by pouring water into the baking dish so that it reaches about 3/4 up the sides of the ramekins.  Carefully transfer to the preheated oven and bake about 50 - 60 minutes, or until the top of the pudding has puffed and is golden brown and the cake feels set and springs back when you poke it.  My motto is "if in doubt keep it going."  Some recipes are ok with the resulting "pudding" being runny, I'm not.  So poke and prod.  Keep it going 10, 20, 30 minutes longer if you aren't sure.  The water bath does a great job in keeping the stuff from overcooking.  

–Serve warm and may the Great Pumpkin bless you and keep you.




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