Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Nigella Lawson.
She was here in New York promoting her latest cookbook, Simply Nigella.
I bought a ticket to one of her book signings.
What I didn’t realize, was that this particular signing wasn’t your typical ‘line up and wait’ for the author to scribble in your cookbook.
She began with a live interview!
Upon arrival, we were ushered into a small auditorium where Nigella spoke for about an hour. It was like our own private concert. From memory, I think the room only held about 50 people. I sat so close to the stage, I could see her eyelashes flutter!
Also, there was an audience Q&A at the end. That was fun. My specific question wasn’t picked (I asked if she was going to film another Christmas special) but it was fascinating listening to her talk in real life.
And not on You Tube.
She’s actually really funny, by the way.
She signed my book, and asked me about The Clever Carrot. We then chatted for a quick 15 seconds. I was hot and sweaty, but somehow managed to keep my cool.
Anyway, within the pages of Simply Nigella, one of my go-to recipes is Pumpkin Bundt Cake.
In our house, pumpkin is not just for autumnal baking; we enjoy it straight through to Easter. And this cake isn’t dense, intense, and heavily spiced. It’s wonderful and soft, lightly spiced with a hint of orange zest folded into the batter.
I deem it ‘celebratory’ to fit the current mood around here.
To be honest, I haven’t been doing much cooking at home; we’ve been eating out, visiting family, and celebrating the release of my book (yeah!).
But because I find baking therapeutic, I happily whipped this up over the weekend to satisfy our sweet tooth and to fulfill my own creative outlet.
You can make this two different ways: bundt cake (as per the original written instructions) or muffins (sprinkled with powdered sugar).
Both versions are excellent!
Tips: As mentioned above, this cake is not heavily spiced or overly sweet. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the hints of orange zest and grated chocolate. Let it be.
Substitutions: The first time I made this recipe, I didn’t have allspice. But it still came out delicious! I also added 1 tsp. of vanilla out of habit.
Make-Ahead: Nigella says that this cake can be frozen (without icing) up to 3 months. Wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap, then foil. I’m assuming the same rules apply to muffins, although I haven’t tried it because the beasts in our house ate everything in sight. No crumbs left! Anyway, to thaw, un wrap and place on a wire rack at room temperature for about 5 hours.
- non-stick cooking spray (or vegetable oil for coating the pan)
- 1½ cups light brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- zest and juice of 1 orange, preferably unwaxed
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (my addition, optional)
- 3 extra large eggs
- 1¼ cups pumpkin puree
- 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 2 cups powdered sugar, plus more to taste
- 2½- 3 tbsp orange juice (using orange from above)
- small square bittersweet chocolate, for grating
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. If making a bundt cake, spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray or lightly coat with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. For muffins, line 2 tins with paper liners. This recipe makes about 15-17 muffins.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, oil, zest of ½ orange and 2 tablespoons of its juice, and vanilla extract, if using. Mix until smooth. Add the eggs and whisk to combine.
- Add the pumpkin puree.
- Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and allspice. Mix until just combined. Don't over mix; the cake will be dry and tough.
- For a bundt cake, pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. For muffins, fill about ⅔'s of the way up, and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- To make the glacé icing, sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Gradually whisk in the remaining orange juice until you achieve a thick, yet pourable consistency.
- To decorate your bundt, drizzle the icing over the top following the natural lines of the cake. I like to wait until my cake is completely cool, this way the icing doesn't soak into the cake too much. Then, grate some of the bittersweet chocolate over the top to finish. For muffins, decorate with powdered sugar to your liking.