Pumpkin Orange Cake

October is pumpkin season. Starting with the green pumpkins which are great in soups and stews, we go on to enjoy the ripe pumpkin in pasta sauce, cheese cake, ice cream and a lot more. And the month ends with the large bright orange pumpkins that get carved into lanterns for Halloween. BTW, it is great fun to set about carving a pumpkin… if you haven’t tried it, you should.


Okay, so we were talking about it being pumpkin season now. These days we find so many products that are pumpkin flavoured. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin syrup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin ales… the list goes on. We have come a long way from the traditional pumpkin pie, the staple at the Thanksgiving table.


Pumpkin flavour in food items originated with the pumpkin spiced coffee, first introduced by Starbucks, which has become a regular item at any coffee place during the season. From there, its popularity has grown greatly over the recent years. According to the US Department of Agriculture, pumpkin sales have gone up by 34% in the last years alone!


Keeping with the spirit of the season, this pumpkin orange cake brings on the goodness of pumpkins, combined with an orangey sweetness. Preserved pumpkin is the base of this cake.


The preserve is prepared from the smallish sugar pumpkins during the pumpkin season and frozen, for use throughout the year. Cut the pumpkin into four pieces, remove all the goop from inside and roast in the oven till soft. Scrape out the flesh and cook it down, in a pan, with a bit of brown sugar. The pumpkin preserve is ready. It is great for making pies, cookies, cakes and brownies, all pumpkin flavoured. 🙂


To make the cake, in addition to the basic cake ingredients, you use cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to add some zest. Rest of it is very routine.


Beat together butter, egg, and the wet flavours.


Add the pumpkin preserve and mix well.


Mix together the dry ingredients.


Add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with the milk.


You can use either a 11 inch cake pan or multiple smaller baking dishes. I had these bakery type paper cake pans which worked perfect!


You have to allow the cake to cool on a wire rack, before applying the frosting.


To prepare the frosting, thoroughly mix the ingredients together.


Decorate with orange segments (either from a fresh orange or a can) and a glazed cherry, and the beautiful cake is ready!


BTW, pumpkin seed oil is the latest beauty product to arrive on the fashion scene. Don’t know whether it will be good for cooking!




Pumpkin Orange Cake
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup concentrated pumpkin preserve
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ tsp finely minced ginger
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • Orange segments (fresh or canned) and glazed cherries for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Using an electric hand-held mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar together, till fluffy.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla and ginger and mix well.
  4. Add the pumpkin preserve and thoroughly beat into the mix.
  5. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  6. Add the flour mixture into the beaten butter-sugar mix, in batches, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  7. Prepare cake pans by buttering them. You can either use an 11 inch pan or smaller pans.
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans till ¾ full.
  9. Place in the middle rack of the pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, to make the frosting, beat the cream cheese till smooth.
  12. Add the powdered sugar and orange zest and mix well, till fluffy.
  13. Apply the frosting to the top of the now cool cake, and decorate with orange segments and glazed cherries. Lovely to look at, and tasty to eat!

Red Beans and Green Pumpkin Soup

October is a time of change…
Most noticeably, the trees change. What was green till yesterday starts turning into yellows and oranges and bright reds…
Temperature goes from warm to cool…
Sweaters and scarves begin to emerge from storage…
Dawn and dusk move towards each other making days shorter…
Early birds start on their migrations south; squirrels get real busy gathering the last of the nuts…
Winds pick up… trying to shake loose the leaves from the trees, getting them ready for the coming winter…
Beaches get deserted; movies and malls get crowded…
Thermostats go from Cool to Heat…
That reminds me of a funny story. Once I was travelling by train to Canada, in the middle of summer. Inside the train, it was freeeezing! Considering the season, all that I had packed were summer clothes. Not a single sweater or jacket in sight! Finally, I approach the conductor and request that the thermostat be turned up a bit. And she goes… “This train has only two settings; heat or cool. Now it is on Cool. And you know what will happen if I turn it to Heat. Do you want me to get beaten up by the other passengers?” Of course, with a smile. The question that came to the tip of my tongue was, “So you think I can’t beat you up?” but considering that I had to spend a few more hours on the train, I pushed that question right back down. And went back to my seat to look at the warm outside world passing by my window, shivering all the time… Did not made that mistake again; Canada always finds me arriving with a jacket, even at the height of summer!
But I digress… we were talking about changes…
Octoberfest and pumpkin ale reign supreme before making way for robust red wines…
And the produce… oh boy, what an abundance of pumpkins and squashes… In all shapes and sizes and colours. The market is so full of them. And they make such wonderful displays. And so many ways of cooking them!
Before the ripe, orange pumpkins in their varieties get to the market, there is a small window of time when, if you are lucky, you will come across the green ones, likely in a farmers’ market. They are nothing like their later selfs; these are more akin to potatoes in their mealy texture. Though you can cook pretty much anything with them, they excel in soups and stews.
This soup is a quick and easy one. Starting with a base of Mirepoix, you build the soup by simply throwing things into the pot.
I have used a banana pepper as well, just for the reason that it was sitting lonely in the refrigerator and I did not have any other use planned for it. That is precisely how my recipes grow most often. 🙂
Among the spice mix, I’ve added a bit of chilli powder which is totally optional. Also, you can either soak dried red beans and boil them or get them out of a can. Tastes equally good either way.
Once you have sautéed the chopped stuff, you will have to move it to a large pot, or start with a pot in which you can do the sautéing as well.
A hunk of crusty bread is all you need to make a great meal!


Red Beans and Green Pumpkin Soup
Recipe type: Soup
  • 2 lb green unripe pumpkin, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 cups cooked red beans
  • 2 red onions, chopped fine
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced thin
  • 1 carrot, slit lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (coriander leaves), minced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat the cooking oil and sauté the onion for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add celery, garlic and carrot and continue sautéing for another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the red beans, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, cumin and chilli powder, if using. Stir together.
  4. Add 5 cups of water to the mix and bring to boil.
  5. Add the pumpkin pieces and chopped tomato.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Adjust seasoning and add the minced cilantro.
  9. Remove from heat and serve hot with crusty bread.

Pumpkin Soup – tasty and healthy

P1 Pumpkin soup Pumpkin and papaya were two of the vegetables I detested most during my childhood, but once I started cooking that slowly changed. Pumpkin found its way into my culinary escapades as my husband was very fond of it and papaya was only made appealing to me by the lovely Pawpaw man. P2 Pumpkin Soup Now, I love pumpkin almost as much as my husband, not only because it is actually really delicious but also because it's really healthy. Pumpkin is good source of vitamin A, B, C and E. A 100 gram pumpkin provides 100% of the daily recommended Vitamin A while containing only 20 calories. Even the seeds inside the hollow of the fruit when dry roasted with some salt are a good low calorie snack. P3 Pumpkin soup Pumpkins are so versatile that they can be used in both sweet as well as savoury dishes.  My favourite way of making pumpkin has to be pumpkin soup which is a big hit with my daughters. It's always on the list of things they want me to make for them when they come to visit me. The last time I made my pumpkin soup, I made a very large batch and decided to freeze half of it to save me the trouble of making it twice. It worked really well and I would definitely recommend it as it's always nice on those lazy days to simply heat something up and have a great, healthy meal with no fuss. P4 pumpkin soup Here I’ve used fresh pumpkins as it’s easily available but canned pumpkins can also be used. The soup is already full of flavour especially with all the roasted cumin and paprika, but you can always tweak it to your taste by adding more garlic or chilli flakes or whatever else you think might make a good addition to the soup. When making the soup for my girls, I always use cream as it is best suited to achieve the smooth, creamy texture but full cream or semi skimmed milk make adequate substitutes when considering the calories.

 P5 Pumpkin Soup


Pumpkin Soup – tasty and healthy
Recipe type: Soups
  • Pumpkin 250 grams (3 cups) - peeled and cut into cubes
  • Onion 1 medium sized – sliced
  • Garlic 6 cloves
  • Chilli powder ½ tsp
  • Paprika 1 tsp
  • Roasted Cumin powder 1-1 ½ tsp
  • Bay leaf 2
  • Vegetable stock cube 1
  • Cream / full cream milk ½ cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Chilli flakes 1 tsp (optional)
  • Olive oil or any refined oil 1 tbsp
  1. Heat a thick bottomed pan with oil.
  2. Add garlic, sliced onions, bay leaf and sauté till onions are transparent.
  3. Add chilli powder and half of the cumin powder and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cut pumpkin cubes, sauté for another 3 minutes, pour 1 cup of water, crumble stock cube and salt, cook till the pumpkin pieces are tender.
  5. Blend this after removing the bay leaf into a smooth puree.
  6. Heat the puree. You can add more salt and chilli flakes, if required, at this point.
  7. Once it starts simmering, add cream and the remaining cumin powder and remove from the heat.
  8. You can add more milk or hot water to the soup to attain the required consistency.
  9. Serve with a small dollop of cream or some croutons.