Whenever I cook, I silently give thanks that I am able to make a choice in the ingredients that go into my dish. I don’t have a sky-high budget, but at least I am able to choose from a variety of items with a fairly reasonable grocery allowance. I understock, rather than overstock my pantry, which hopefully leads to less food wastage at home. With almost zero dollar wasted on food items thrown away due to spoilage, I can stick to fresher produce or foodstuff that I think are of a better quality such as organic fruits (I get to eat the apple peels), healthier cooking oil (which I will use lesser cos they are after all, higher in price), or Omega-3 enriched nuts (instead of chips peppered with salt and MSG.) I know that I will be eating them, not throwing them away. This is my motivation for buying better food, not more food. Quality, not quantity.
I had a lousy butter cake last week and wonder how the popular bakery chain could have gotten it all wrong? Maybe it was a personal preference, but it was all dried up and not a whiff of butter spotted. I suspected that I was eating a new breed of bread-cake or cake-bread, like cronuts or wassant. But no, the label and my receipt clearly indicated BUTTER CAKE. I am no food connoisseur, but I think I can differentiate between a good butter cake and a not-so-good “maybe-shortening cake”. Good ingredients are all it takes for a home baker to satisfy her own cravings.
So early morning next day, I dug out a block of frozen butter from my stash (Yes! I stock up punnets of berries and blocks of butter on sale in my freezer!) and left it on the countertop to soften, while I went the market to get a wedge of pumpkin and fresh large eggs to bake a simple butter cake with a never-fail recipe from here.
By noon, I was enjoying a slice of butter cake, the kind that is perfect in all the right places : moist but fluffy, buttery but not greasy. And the addition of 200 grams of pumpkin kind of offsets the guilt from consuming 200 grams of butter. Plus, the beta-carotene comes in handy to keep my eyesight healthy.
Here’s another recipe that uses 2 fewer eggs but more 50grams more butter.
PUMPKIN BUTTER CAKE
recipe from here 200g pumpkin, steamed and mashed 200g soften butter, room temperature 180g raw sugar 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 5 large eggs (70g each) 300g cake flour 1 teaspoon baking powder
Grease and flour an 8 inch round cake pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 180C.
Cream softened butter, sugar, and vanilla extract with a paddle attachment at medium speed till the yellow tone of the butter turns several shades paler and the mixture is soft and fluffy. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the butter mixture down from the side of the bowl to the center so that mixture gets beaten evenly. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure that each egg gets incorporated before adding the next one. My cake mixture at this point started to look like a curdled mess, even though my eggs and butter were of room temperature. After some reading (only after the cake was done), here, here and here, a curdled batter doesn’t seem to be the end of the world, and can usually be rectified with the addition of dry ingredients, like flour, which I am adding next.
Sift the cake flour and baking powder twice. Add only half of this to the batter and run the mixer on the lowest speed to combine.
Incorporate the pumpkin puree to the batter with the mixer on the same lowest speed. For the last step of adding the remaining flour, I fold it into the batter with a spatula instead of using the mixer. Once there are no more traces of flour in the batter, I pour it into the 8 inch round pan. Level the surface of the batter with a spatula ( I sometimes use my finger) and bake it at 180C for 50 minutes, or when the skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool completely in its pan on a rack. Any attempts to dislodge a very warm cake from its baking pan run the risk of tearing the cake from the middle where it is the hottest and still moist. If you like to serve the cake hot out of the oven, you can line the cake pan with parchment paper instead of the grease and flour method. In that way, you can simply lift the cake out of its pan with breaking it apart.
This cake doesn’t keep well due to the high moisture content of the pumpkin puree. If it doesn’t get completely consumed in 24 hours after baking, store the remaining in a tight container, keep in the fridge.
The next time you eat it, return the cake to room temperature first. Otherwise, the butter will turn the cake hard when it is cold.