I feel I must start with an apology - this is the second chocolate cake I have written about in less than a month (click here for mini chocolate cakes with nutella cream). However, as the cakes are completely different in terms of taste, texture and when you would want to eat them, I think that its inclusion here is justified. The seasonal use of pumpkin is another reason for adding it to October's recipes.
Although most people are familiar with pumpkin in tarts and pies, it may seem an odd ingredient in a cake. However, please don't be alarmed. This cake is wonderful, combining a fudgy, moist texture and a rich, chocolatey flavour with a hint of spiciness thanks to the pumpkin. It is not overly sweet and although it looks quite dense, it actually isn't. It is perfect as an Italian breakfast cake or as a mid-morning/mid-afternoon snack with a cup of coffee and it keeps brilliantly. It is quite a plain-looking cake but I rather like that. You could ice it though with a vanilla scented cream cheese icing, the sort you would use on a carrot cake.
The origins of this cake lie in Mantova, a fairy-tale city that seems to rise out of the lakes that surround it. It is at its best at this time of year when the mist adds an ethereal quality and with both the tourists and mosquitoes gone, you can wander freely around the magical, historic centre, stopping for an espresso in a cafe on the cobbled square. The region is famous for pumpkins - you find them in everything, from the famous tortelli, where they are used, along with crushed amaretti, to make the filling to pies, cakes and biscuits.
I'm sending this over to We Should Cocoa, the monthly blogging challenge, started by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele of Chocolate Tea Pot, which each month selects an ingredient or theme to be paired with chocolate. This month's theme is Pumpkin, hosted by Hungry Hinny.
I'm also sending it to Nazima (formerly of Working London Mummy) at her wonderful new home Franglais Kitchen. She is this month's host of The One Ingredient Challenge (Pumpkin and Squash), run jointly with Laura at How to Cook Good Food. She is also hosting the Simple and In Season challenge, run by Ren of Fabulicious Food.
Last but not least, I'm sending it to Javelin Warrior's wonderful weekly challenge, Made with Love Mondays.
350-400g pumpkin, after removing skin and seeds, roughly chopped
200g self raising flour
200g caster sugar
100g butter, melted
40g cocoa powder
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
Grease and base line a round cake tin, 24cm diameter
Start by making the pumpkin puree. Place the chopped, skinless, seedless pumpkin in a steamer and steam for about 30 mins or until soft. Blend (or mash) to a smooth puree.
Put the eggs in a bowl with the caster sugar and whisk (preferably not by hand!) until thick and voluminous.
Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder and mix gently. Then add the melted butter and the pumpkin puree, whisking all the time until everything is smoothly amalgamated.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 45-50 mins. If it starts to burn on top, cover loosely with foil.
Leave to cool for about 20 mins before turning out of the tin onto a wire rack.
Serve dusted thickly with icing sugar.