This season is all about indulgences- comfort food and eating deliciously. It is especially laden with fabulous recipes involving the orange puree that is so readily available in a can. This little gem I can buy by the dozens and find within seconds of walking in the door to my supermarket, isn’t available everywhere.
Allow me to reminisce for a minute or two…
In 2001, I studied abroad in Paris for four months. It was an especially interesting time to be away from home since we arrived for our semester-long program on September 9th of that year. Sometime in early November, one of our french program advisors informed us that the Thanksgiving party wouldn’t be able to happen for one reason or another, and a couple of us nearly flipped out at the thought of not having Thanksgiving. In fact, we became adamant that it didn’t get cancelled, and offered to do the cooking ourselves and pick up a roasted turkey from a butcherie the night of our party. It had been a difficult time to be away from family that year, and Thanksgiving just had to be really special for us. Somehow, our advisor complied, and allowed us the delusion that we could handle it all ourselves.
As the day approached, my dear friend and trusted partner in Operation-Thanksgiving-Must-Go-On and I began translating a tattered old french-written recipe for pumpkin pie our host-mother had provided us with. I suppose we thought it would be cool to translate the recipe ourselves rather than e-mail our parents for something from home.
The recipe itself was perhaps a bit of an anomalie, in that our host-mother, Madame B., only had it because she had visited the US several times and it was one from her collection of “American” recipes. Pumpkin Pie is not really done in France. Pumpkin is not readily available. In fact, it doesn’t really translate and we had the hardest time finding what might be a good substitute for pumpkin. Finally, after searching many grocery stores and using our not-so-good french to try and describe what we were looking for, we were presented with a plastic-wrapped portion of fresh “potiron, ” (which is not to be confused with what the french would call probably “citrouille,” which would be the traditional carving pumpkin…of course I didn’t know this at the time).
Thus began our disastrous and hilarious Thanksgiving tale that would be remembered and told forevermore. While I leave you to ponder the simple luxury that readily available, canned pumpkin is to enhancing the season’s taste, I’ll plan to share the next chapter in my Paris Thanksgiving adventure next week. Deal? (Or are you cringing in agony like my husband is because he has heard this story so many times?)
Happy pumpkin baking!
You could call this one just “Pumpkin Crunch Cake” due to its versatility as either a ridiculously good dessert, or incredibly scrumptious breakfast indulgence. It was introduced to me a couple of weeks ago by my wonderful aunt who hosted us for a Fall festival and served this cake for dessert at her home. I adapted it from a 9×13 size which used a yellow cake mix, but decided to develop a from-scratch version for a smaller, more coffee-cake sized dish, and it really couldn’t be simpler!
- 1 1/3 Cups cake flour (I'm sure all-purpose would work fine)
- 1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 8 Tablespoons butter (1 stick) + 3 Tablespoons (divided)
- 3/4 Cup chopped pecans
- 1 Cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 Cup sweetened condensed milk
- 3 eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugars and stir together. Set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 Tablespoons butter and add chopped pecans. Stir to coat with butter and cook until toasty and fragrant.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, and eggs.
- In a small, microwavable dish, melt the stick of butter (8 Tablespoons).
- Prepare an 8 x 8 inch baking dish by coating with remaining 1 Tablespoon butter.
- Spread pumpkin mixture on the bottom of baking dish.
- Sprinkle flour mixture over top of pumpkin and press down gently.
- Sprinkle the toasted pecans over that evenly and drizzle with melted butter.
- Bake at 350° for 45 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more, until toothpick comes out clean.