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Desserts for Thanksgiving:
Pumpkin Cake and Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
By Charlie Burke

While we usually have a traditional pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, my wife,
Joanne also makes a moist pumpkin cake and a lighter version of pie which is
welcome after the large meal. Joanne received the recipe for the pumpkin cake
years ago from her friend, Elaine Proulx, who ran a catering business, and, like
many of her recipes, it has remained a favorite of ours.

There is excellent balance between the pumpkin and the spices, resulting in a
mix of aromatic fall flavors, perfect for a Thanksgiving menu. The pumpkin
chiffon also features traditional Thanksgiving spices and was inspired by a
recipe in the old Victory Garden Cookbook which, coincidently, was also given
to Joanne by Elaine.

For the cake Joanne usually uses fresh pumpkin, either roasted or steamed, but
she has had excellent results with canned unflavored pumpkin, as well. The
recipe is quick and easy, and the cake keeps well for those who start their
holiday cooking days ahead.

Two cakes:

3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 jumbo eggs (or 5 large)
2 cups steamed or roasted pumpkin, pureed and drained in a strainer or 1 16
ounce can
3 ½ cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2/3 cup cold water

Combine the sugar, oil, eggs and pumpkin in the bowl of a mixer. Add the
flour and spices to the pumpkin mixture and blend well in the mixer. Add the
water with the mixer running and mix until well blended.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 8 inch cake pans,
preferably spring pans, and divide the mixture between them.

Bake the pans in the center of the oven for 60 – 70 minutes until a probe comes
out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes and then turn the cakes out
and cool them completely on the rack.

The flavor of this cake improves after twenty four hours. Stored in foil, it keeps
for several days.

Like the cake, the pie uses two cups or steamed or roasted pumpkin or one can
of unflavored pumpkin. Over the years, we have found kids like this pie, even
if they shy away from the traditional version. Use your favorite pie crust recipe
to blind bake a 9 inch crust.

One nine inch pie:

4 large egg yolks
¾ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups steamed or roasted pumpkin, pureed and drained or 1 16 ounce can
½ cup heavy cream
5 egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Place the pie dough into a 9 inch pan, perforate the bottom with a fork and
cover the bottom with parchment paper or wax paper. Weigh down the dough
with dried beans or pie weights and cook in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10
minutes and then remove the weights and bake an additional 5 minutes or
until it is beginning to brown. Remove the crust and set it aside to cool. Reduce
the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a mixer and beat until well blended.
Add the spices, salt, egg yolks and cream and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they hold soft
peaks. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the pumpkin and then gently fold in the
remaining whites until just blended.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake it in the middle of the preheated
350 degree oven for 50 – 60 minutes. The pie is done when the filling just sets
(when shaken the filling jiggles with no sign of liquid flowing). Serve at room
temperature or cool from the refrigerator.

Both of these are great do-ahead recipes, letting the cook get an early start on
Thanksgiving preparation. The pie stores well in the refrigerator, the flavor of
the cake actually improves when stored a day or two in foil, and both share the
spicy flavors of Thanksgiving in New England.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at
Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
The Heart of New England
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Left- Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, Right - Pumpkin Cake  Photo by Charlie Burke
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