babbo’s pumpkin cake

November 17th, 2008 · 28 Comments

as you very well know, right now we are in full pumpkin swing. pumpkin everything is everywhere. let’s face it – once a year we all go pumpkin crazy and really, it’s a good thing. all the baked goods – from pies to muffins to cheesecakes and breads, pumpkin concoctions stuffed into various shaped pastas and sauced with sage brown butter, and even ‘pumpkin as edible vessel’, filled with dried fruits and spiced rice. if it’s autumn, we’re eating pumpkins, winter squash and sweet potatoes. which is a more than welcome sight after seemingly endless quantities of the zucchini and yellow squash we’ve had to contend with all late summer…

so while flipping through the babbo cookbook, looking for cookie ideas for the upcoming december class, i spotted this cake and began to longingly read the recipe. somehow i had every single thing i needed, right here in the house. so obviously, it was not only going to get made, but it was absolutely meant to be. except for the accompanying olive oil gelato – sadly, that wasn’t going to happen. and i say sadly because i’ve had mario’s olive oil gelato and it is insanely good. but it would have required a trip to the store and the ice cream maker bowl wasn’t in the freezer and well, quite frankly with 6 egg yolks and the heavy cream and olive oil, my ass is fat enough these days – and i was thinking we could eek by without it…

the ingredient list was simple and sounded like perfection and the process was uncomplicated – another huge plus. and so far gina depalma, pastry chef at babbo restaurant had never steered me wrong. her desserts are thoughtful and well executed and are inspired by the italian way of thinking and eating, but are still unlike what you might find in italy. gina is probably my favorite pastry chef and i highly recommend her book dolce italiano: desserts from the babbo kitchen.


pumpkin cake with toasted pine nuts
mario batali –
the babbo cookbook

1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons brandy or grappa
1 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar – packed
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup canned pumpkin purée

preheat oven to 325f. lightly spray a 9" square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray

spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. allow to cool. place the raisins in the bowl with the brandy and pour the boiling water over them. set the raisins aside to plump.

in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking soda. in the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs and brown sugar until very light. add the rosemary leaves and then, with the mixer running, slowly beat in the olive oil. beat in the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl. add the pumpkin and beat until smooth. stir in the drained raisins and pine nuts.

pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. allow cake to cool and remove from pan.

i’m not a huge baker, and i stay clear of most anything with a rolled pastry. but i am a huge dessert fan and when i can find a recipe that reads pure deliciousness with minimal fuss i am very grateful. the fresh rosemary, olive oil (i used a buttery spanish) and brandy soaked golden raisins along with the toasted pine nuts resulted in a true standout flavor – and the cake itself was light and moist.

and yes, the gelato would have capped it perfectly – but i suppose that is for another time…


Tags: baking

28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Muse in the Kitchen // Nov 17, 2008 at 11:34 am

    This pumpkin cake sounds delicious – I’m particularly intrigued by the addition of the rosemary. We’ve been on a slight pumpkin binge ourselves, and this recipe looks really good!

  • 2 lisaiscooking // Nov 17, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    This looks great; great combo of flavors. I was wondering about Dolce Italiano since I’ve heard mixed reviews. Now, I need to get a copy.

  • 3 Sara // Nov 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    This sounds really delicious and unique – I have exactly one cup of pumpkin leftover from another recipe, I’ll be making this soon!

  • 4 Lauren // Nov 17, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    babbo rules. the cake looks great. i love pumpkin.

  • 5 krysta // Nov 17, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    mmm, yummy. i don’t think you could go wrong with this.

  • 6 maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) // Nov 17, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    All in all very healthy. Though, since I am eating mine virtually, I will eat it with gelato. (Missed you; will be reading lots of unread posts.)

  • 7 Choosy Beggar Tina // Nov 17, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Ooh…I just picked up that cookbook a week and a half ago! I had never heard of it, but I liked the cover design. I’m one of ‘those people’.

    Also, I just happen to have both rosemary and grappa…but still would never have thought to make this cake without your endorsement, so maybe you just gave me something to do tomorrow night.

  • 8 canarygirl // Nov 18, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Oooooh, sounds delicious! Toasted pine nuts make everything better. And YAY that you used Spanish olive oil! I don’t know why we don’t export more of it.

  • 9 Donald // Nov 18, 2008 at 7:26 am

    This sounds delicious. We love pumpkin. Putting that book on my AmazonDOTcom wishlist.

  • 10 Mari // Nov 18, 2008 at 9:21 am

    I’m going to make this as soon as I’m back from holiday, and hopefully I’ll have some buttery Spanish olive oil in tow, along with other goodies!

  • 11 Heather // Nov 18, 2008 at 11:06 am

    What is it with pumpkin, anyway? I mean it’s good and all, and healthy, but why the inundation? Well, it’s cakes like this, that’s why! I’m ready to run right out and start churning out cucurbitaceous delights such as this, and I even hate baking.

  • 12 Lesley // Nov 18, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this cake since Saturday. The roasted pumpkin guts are still in my fridge, waiting patiently. Though I am still considering a sweet pumpkin cupcake. Mmm…cupcakes.

  • 13 maris // Nov 18, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I’m glad you’re loving pumpkin as much as I am these days! I am still not sick of it

  • 14 Kristie // Nov 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    That looks amazing. Naked, though…like it went shopping for a whipped cream outfit but couldn’t find anything in its size, so it decided to just veg out in front of the t.v. lamenting its figure and wearing sweatpants. Deep down, though, it’s a good person. And I want it.

  • 15 Melissa // Nov 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    You know what? I’ve never had pumpkin anything. I should take the opportunity to try it in the next month, eh?

    I can’t believe you had all the ingredients on hand. That looks just as you describe – light and moist.

  • 16 yveala // Nov 18, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    i’ve been away too long, but the timing of my return was head love love pumpkin anything and i’ve got a big one right outside my front door that’s ready to be messed with, so although the can will get replaced,the rest of the ingredients look delish – i’ll let you know how great it comes out in a couple of days and the split pea soup (with flankin) looks perfect..that’s next

  • 17 Sophie // Nov 19, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    The flavors in this cake do sound incredible, I like that the raisins get rehydrated — I bet that contributed to making the cake moist. Nice execution of the recipe, it looks and sounds like a deelish Fall dessert :).

  • 18 Brittany // Nov 20, 2008 at 1:31 am

    I too, am a pumpkin whore.

    But, I have nevr tried olive oil gelato. I know! I feel like an asshole!

  • 19 lo // Nov 20, 2008 at 9:41 am

    I’m seriously tempted by this. I’ll bet the rosemary made it a true stand-out.

    I’m thinking I’ve got to try it out to see for myself.

  • 20 Peter // Nov 20, 2008 at 10:13 am

    This will go on my maybe list for Thanksgiving, though I’d make it with fresh pumpkin or kabocha. The gelato sounds pretty good, too; I keep my ice cream maker bowl permanently in the freezer just in case.

  • 21 michelle @ TNS // Nov 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

    am i a bad person if i don’t want the raisins in mine? i loathe both brandy AND cooked raisins.

    also, ditto what peter said: this is why you need to keep the ice cream bowl in the freezer at all times. because you NEVER KNOW.

  • 22 NOBLE PIG // Nov 20, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    It’s beautiful, really lovely. I am intrigued with the rosemary and of course the alcohol soaked raisins…duh….perfection.

  • 23 Jack // Nov 20, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    That is a smashing pumpkin recipe if I’ve ever seen one!

  • 24 Shari // Nov 20, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    That looks super! And pine nuts would add that crunch to the dessert. Yum.

  • 25 Kim // Nov 21, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Yes to pumpkin cake! I like the height of this, the pine nuts- the rosemary- it looks earthy and good. And just sweet enough, thanks-Claudia! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  • 26 cook eat FRET - A16’s short ribs alla genovese x2 // Nov 21, 2008 at 2:22 pm

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  • 27 Marie // Nov 23, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    You’re tempting me with this Claudia, I just might have to whip this up instead of cheesecake.
    The heck with cheesecake, I want this!!

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    […] Young of CookEatFRET picks up Gina DePalma’s new pastry cookbook and whips up a version of Babbo’s pumpkin cake. The batter makes use of toasted pine nuts, grappa, Spanish extra-virgin olive oil and a surprise […]

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