You know, I have never been a fan of fruit cake and I place the blame squarely on this recipe.
My mum was a take it or leave it type of person. If you didn’t want what was on offer, then you could go without. Many times I would be starving, as only a child can be, and I would ask mum, ‘What’s to eat?’ The answer was, invariably, ‘There is some pumpkin cake in the tin.’ There was always bloody pumpkin cake in the tin!! For the whole of my childhood, I don’t remember there ever being another variety of cake in the tin.
Since my mum died, I have often wondered about this cake and why she made it, to the exclusion of all others. I have two possible explanations. Either it was my dad’s favourite and it went into his crib (as a cut lunch used to be called) every day or she knew we didn’t particularly like it and, therefore, it would last longer.
I can remember going to visit my Aunty Peg, who was not renowned for her cooking, and demolishing some cake that I thought was wonderful. I told my mum it was the best thing I had ever tasted and she scornfully replied, ‘It is just a packet cake.’ There were never packet cakes in our house, only pumpkin cake.
Sometimes, if I was really hungry, I would have a slice of pumpkin cake. It was o….k……
Most of us think our mother’s were great cooks but I do wonder sometimes. Maybe, they just cooked a limited range of dishes really, really well. In retrospect, I think my mum was in that category. She sure could whip up a pumpkin cake.
As an adult, I must have asked mum for the recipe (as it is in my hand written collection of recipes) and I have, on occasion, made it (for sentimental reasons).
Because I am flush with pumpkins (about thirty of the buggers), the memory of this cake came racing back to me. Damn it, I would make mum’s cake. It is a great colour, is lovely and light for a fruit cake and, as with all cakes made with a vegetable, stays moist for an amazingly long time. It really is quite a nice cake. Maus and I don’t seem to be having any trouble demolishing it.
If you were not traumatised by fruit cake as a child and love a light moist cake, this one could be for you. It most certainly was someone’s favourite cake in our household.
- 12oz (340g) mixed fruit. Mum used to buy a packet of mixed fruit but, as I had plenty of fruit on hand, I made up my own. I used sultanas, cherries, cranberries and mixed peel.
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup self raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of mashed pumpkin, cold
- 6oz (170g) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- Preheat your oven to 180°C.
- Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
- Sift the flours together and set aside.
- Add a small amount of the flour to the fruit to coat it to ensure all the fruit is separated then set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer.
- Add the eggs and beat well.
- Add the pumpkin. Continue beating until well combined.
- Fold in the combined flour and then the fruit.
- Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.
My notes say if the mixture is too stiff, ‘add a little milk’. I guess it would depend on how dry your the pumpkin is. I did not need to add any.