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

Ingredients:

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!

Jennifer

Velvet Pumpkins!

Early in the week I posted this giveaway which also included a link to a second giveaway I’m offering over at Sisterview for some velvet pumpkins I made.  Well, it doesn’t stop there.  You see, it seems that in some things I’m great at moderation and in others I’m not.  This would be one when I’m not.  I’ve spent the week with a pot simmering on the stove with various colors of fabric dye and velvet in it.

Did I have time for it?  No.  Should I have been doing other things instead?  Yes.  did I get some interesting looks from my almost 13 year old daughter?  Yup.  But was it fun?  Absolutely!  And I learned some new things.  A week ago I’d never tried to dye fabric, and now I’ve done it at least a dozen times.  It’s healthy to try new things, and I’m finally using my stash of pumpkin stems as well!

I think they’re beautiful:  deep navy blues, teal, aqua, burgundy, plum, lavender and a gorgeous dark gray.  No orange in this batch!  Seeing them sitting there together brings a smile to my face and I’m enjoying the unexpected colors as much as I like the traditional ones.

Once again, I’d like to share some.  I’m going to send a lucky someone a set of four velvet pumpkins in various colors and sizes.  The giveaway will close at midnight Tuesday November 15th and I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday.  I know that’s getting close to Thanksgiving, but I hope you can still enjoy them or at least enjoy packing them away until next Halloween!

Here’s how to enter:  Leave me a comment telling me how you feel about using non-traditional colors in holiday decor/celebrations.  I’m curious to see what you think.

I typically stick with traditional colors, although the hue changes as color tones come and go.  I also find as the years go by that I yearn for more white in all of my holiday decorating.  I’ve also let some aqua creep into my Christmas decor in the last few years.  But every once in a while there is something I want in every possible color, and these velvet pumpkins would certainly be it.  Somehow it’s the variety of colors that draws my eye to notice each one, compare and contrast, and savor the composition they create together.  So while all my Thanksgiving decor is in browns, oranges and other earthy tones, this year I’m loving the little surprise of colorful pumpkins here and there.  (And I have three or four mostly white projects I’d love to tackle if there’s time.)

Good luck!  And don’t forget you have until midnight Friday to enter other giveaways here and here.

Jennifer
P.S.  Are you keeping a gratitude list this year?  I am.  And color, velvet, and pumpkins are all on it.  (Along with much more important things, of course.)

Pumpkin Biscuits

The temperature has dropped this week, and right now I sit curled up in one of my favorite fall quilts.  That’s a good thing, because it means I made it to the basement to unpack some Fall and Halloween decorations for my children.  The little ones have switched costumes at least fifty times in the last 24 hours and I look around at the disarray with a smile.  I’m so grateful they get to do this, and I’m grateful it will end in a few days.  Halloween is just around the corner.

Several weeks ago I purchased this publication.   At the time I wondered a little at my decision, but now I’m thrilled to have it.  I’ve tried more than half a dozen recipes from it and they’ve all been delicious. It’s full of bookmarks, a spill, and tattered corners.  One of the things I love about it is having a picture of every recipe included.  I highly recommend it.

One of  the first recipes I tried was this recipe for pumpkin biscuits.  Our whole family enjoyed them and one son in particular begs everyone else for their biscuit while the rest of us enjoy dinner.

Pumpkin Biscuits
(recipe from Taste of Home Fall Baking publication)

Ingredients:
1- 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup buttermilk

Preparation:
In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in 1/2 cup water until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Combine pumpkin and buttermilk, stir into crumb mixture just until moistened.  *Note:  I’ve made these twice now and both times I had to add a couple of tablespoons more milk.

Turn onto lightly floured surface, knead 8-10 times.  Roll out to 1 inch thickness; cut with a 2 or 2-1/2 inch biscuit cutter.  Place 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet (or just use parchment paper).

Bake at 425 for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  **Another note:  the recipe calls for 1-1/2 tsp. melted butter to be brushed over the biscuits, but I haven’t added it.  It seems to me there’s already plenty of butter in them.

According to the recipe, one batch makes 6 biscuits if cut with a 2 1/2 inch round cutter.  The first time we made them, we cut them into 1 1/2 inch circles for taste testing and it made two dozen.  Last night I used a 2 inch cutter and squeezed 10 biscuits out of a batch.  Next time I make them, I’ll double it for my family.

I hope you enjoy this pumpkin recipe.
Jennifer

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