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
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…