Pumpkin Lavender Cake

One thing that resulted from the lavender books I purchased and read this year is a curiosity about experimenting with pumpkin and lavender together.  I happen to love both of them independently and I was pretty sure they’d make a nice combination.

At last I did it.  I fiddled with another recipe and came up with this one for a pumpkin lavender cake.  It did not disappoint.

This cake is doubly special to me because I also did some research on pumpkins and learned more about the Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkin.  It’s a French heirloom pumpkin which was first brought to the U.S. in the late 1800s and is now often referred to as a Cinderella pumpkin.  I learned that the flesh of this pumpkin is very thick, yielding much more pumpkin than most and that it also makes the most delicious pumpkin pies.  So, naturally, I bought one.  On Sunday I cut it in half, scraped out the seeds (which I’ve saved to plant next year) and baked it.  Can you believe how beautiful this pumpkin is?  The color is breathtaking, and the walls are very thick.

I could only fit one half on a baking sheet at a time and it yielded a huge bowl of pumpkin, probably enough for all my pumpkin baking this year.  (Yay for me!  I learned something new!)

And thus my pumpkin lavender cake was born, baked with homemade pumpkin puree.  I baked it in my pumpkin cake pan, but it would be especially pretty in a bundt cake pan as well.  {And if I’m honest, I’d say this cake pan makes it look more like a candied apple than a pumpkin, so maybe next year I should try a caramel apple cake in this pan!}  What really matters with this cake is its flavor.

Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Lavender Cake


2 cups sugar 1 Tablespoon dried lavender buds 1 cup butter 4 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup pumpkin puree 1/4 cup heavy cream (or half and half will work, too) 2 1/2 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt Preparation:

Place the sugar and lavender in a blender or food processor and process until lavender is chopped and incorporated into sugar (*if you’d like to smell something divine, just savor this for a few minutes!).  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add 1/3 sugar mixture and beat.  Continue this until all sugar is added and mixture is creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each egg.  Add vanilla and beat well.

In a small bowl, combine pumpkin and cream and mix together.  In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Add 1/3 pumpkin mixture to batter and mix well.  Add 1/3 flour mixture and beat again.  Continue adding both the pumpkin and flour mixtures (alternating between the two) until all ingredients are combined.

Grease a bundt pan and spoon batter into pan.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Invert onto cooling rack to remove cake from pan and allow to cool completely.

My first impression of the cake was that the lavender flavor was the tiniest bit stronger than the pumpkin.  Because of this I opted to frost it with my Brown Sugar Frosting to balance the lavender and increase the traditional pumpkin taste.  I sprinkled the top with lavender buds for a finishing touch.

My family loved it. They all liked different things more.  Some liked the frosting best, some liked the cake, some liked the pumpkin, some loved the lavender.  It was gone in an afternoon.  I loved savoring each bite, tasting the lavender and the pumpkin both.  I’ll definitely make this cake again, and it was a fun first effort at pairing pumpkin and lavender.

If you ever try it, let me know.  I’d love to get more opinions on the two flavors together!


Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I saw this recipe on page 124 of the October 2011 issue of Country Living magazine and have had it sitting on my kitchen counter ever since.  One of my favorite things to do every fall is try new pumpkin recipes (as well as make old favorites) so this was a great opportunity.  I also love finding ways to use pumpkin in savory ways as well as sweet.

And so, last week I served this pasta to my family for dinner.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure what they would think, especially my husband, but they all raved about it and were relieved I had made two pans full.  I guess that means it’s a keeper!

So here is the recipe, in case you don’t have the magazine.  My family recommends that you try it!

Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells


24 jumbo pasta shells 1 Tb. olive oil 22 ounces fat-free ricotta cheese (2 1/2 cups) 1  (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree  *make sure you don’t get pumpkin flavored for pumpkin pie!
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) grated Romano cheese 1 large egg white (I just used a whole egg) 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup fresh basil, chopped  (you can certainly cut back on this if you don’t love basil) 1 Tb. fresh sage, finely chopped (I used dried) 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. ground pepper 1 (26 ounce) jar store-bought tomato sauce (I used spaghetti sauce) Preparation:

Cook pasta shells according to package directions.  Drain and transfer to a baking sheet (or piece of aluminum foil) and drizzle with oil.  Let cool.

In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, pumpkin, 3/4 cup Romano, egg, garlic, basil, sage, salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Spread spaghetti sauce in bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Fill each pasta shell with about three tablespoons pumpkin-ricotta mixture.  Arrange shells in pan.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes more.  Serve and enjoy!

Note:  I prepared this dish the day before, stuffed the shells and stored them between layers of plastic in an airtight container overnight.  On the day I served them, my only prep was to pour the spaghetti sauce in the pan, arrange the pasta and bake!  They tasted delicious, and the few we had left were delicious the next day as well.

This was a delicious recipe.  It’s meatless and relatively low in fat, considering that it’s mostly “cheesy”.  According to the nutrition information provided by Country Living, one serving contains 321 calories, 22 grams protein, only 9 grams fat, 39 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 977 milligrams sodium and 19 milligrams cholesterol.

I hope you’ll try it!

Hopeful Homemaker

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake

This cake is one I’ve been making for years.  Shared by a friend, it combines the familiar flavor of pumpkin with the unexpected taste of butterscotch.  The butterscotch is mild enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the cake, and even people who usually dislike butterscotch give it compliments.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cake


2 cups butterscotch morsels, divided 2 cups flour 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar 1 Tb. baking powder 1 tsp. salt 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 1 cup pumpkin puree 1/2 cup vegetable oil 3 eggs 1 tsp. vanilla 1/2 cup undiluted evaporated milk Preparation:

Microwave 1 cup butterscotch morsels for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir, microwave for another 20 seconds until smooth.  Stir together melted butterscotch, pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl with wire whisk.  Stir in combined dry ingredients.  Spray a 10 inch bundt pan with non-stick spray and spoon batter in.

Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 30 minutes.  Invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare butterscotch sauce, heat evaporated milk over medium heat and bring to boil.  Remove from heat and add remaining 1 cup butterscotch morsels.  Stir until smooth.  Return to heat and bring to boil.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Spoon small amount of sauce over entire cake, reserving at least half the sauce to spoon over individual slices.


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