I am pleased to say that we arrived in pretty good condition after our long long long flight. I thought my little assistant travelled really well and he slept much more than he would have at home. Sure there were a couple of crying jags, but I think by that stage everyone on the plane was probably feeling like howling with the frustration of extended turbulence. His love of travelators knows no bounds as we spent 99% of our in transit time in Hong Kong going backwards and forwards.
I can honestly admit, that if not for this group, I would never ever have baked this cake. This is when baking with pictures can actually be a bit intimidating rather than inspiring. Thankfully though, I did suck up some courage, buy a bundt pan (pumpkin pans are definitely not available in this sleepy little town!) and finally made my interpretation of Rose's very grand and very literal Pumpkin Cake.
Apart from a couple of ingredients - the walnut oil and pureed pumpkin- this was actually a very simple cake to make. I searched high and low for walnut oil (well, maybe not that high or low - just one grocery store) but to no avail. I just substituted canola oil for the walnut oil. I made my own pureed pumpkin which added to my trepidation - how wet is canned pumpkin? Would it ruin the cake if my pumpkin was too wet/not wet enough? I let my pureed pumpkin drain while I prepared the cake mix, just to be cautious. Making pumpkin puree is hardly brain surgery - so don't let that put you off making this cake.
The cake mix looked quite wet to my eye - and this is where I started to question how wet canned pumpkin puree could be? Though not enough to do any research on the internet! I was baking to a deadline - we were planning a visit to friends in Curio Bay to watch a couple of rugby games and stay the night. I just hoped for the best, placed my faith in Rose, and whacked the pan into the oven. I think it took about 40 minutes to cook. About a quarter of the time it took to make the faffing icing.
Ayeee. That icing. Okay, so it probably isn't best to multitask while making caramel. My first batch of burnt caramel was a bit too burnt. More black than deep amber. But onwards I soldiered, adding it into the milk - which promptly split. At that stage, I couldn't just pretend it would be okay. I started afresh, with single minded dedication and produced a rather thin looking not too burnt Creme Anglaise.
I had to use a hand beater to get the meringue, as my Mum's kitchen has a Kenwood and a swift whip hand beater with not a lot in between. So perhaps my meringue wasn't as firm as it could have been. I tested all the temperatures of the anglaise, the butter and the meringue and all averaged around the 21 degree celsius. So I don't know where I went wrong, but I suspect that the icing should be creamy smooth rather than looking a bit airy. It tasted fine, but just looked a bit weird. My Dad thought it was a special effect to make the icing look like the skin of an orange! Um. Not the intended result, but thanks. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the icing as I was making it. I suspect I beat the butter a bit too much and it became to airy? I think I will have to watch Rose make it on line - except I can't find it. Help! See how it looks weirdly solid but holey (don't I have a way with words?). Was it too cold? That orange string on the top is actually orange zest that I cooked in the remainder of the orange juice concentrate with some more sugar to crystallize it. The cake looked a bit bland without it.
In the end, my extra air bubbles (or whatever they were) did nothing to detract from the cake. Actually, I think the cake could more than stand up without any icing - it was that good. Moist, fragrant, flavourful and delicious. Definitely an alternative to the more ubiquitous carrot cake. Actually, I can see that this cake would be excellent as a last minute whip up (without the palaver of the icing though). I will keep making this cake - just not with the icing.
And the photo above is the view from where we ate Rose's Pumpkin Cake. Curio Bay or more correctly Porpoise Bay. A truly beautiful place, maybe 40 houses and a camping ground skirting the beach. A pod of Hector's dolphins regularly frequent the bay and frolic amongst the surfers and those souls brave enough to swim in the ocean. There is also a colony of Blue Penguins nesting around the bay - even under the back step of our friend's house.
So looking forward to seeing everyone elses perfect icing adorning their pumpkins. Hopefully there will be a few photos of the in process icing so I can do a mental comparison.