Fall is my most favorite season for baking. I love brown sugar, and spices, and a warm kitchen on a crisp day. I love heading out for a morning hike with a mug of hot coffee and an apple spice muffin tucked in my pocket. I love a flaky pie crust and cinnamon and fluffy scarves.
This elegant cake, a favorite of mine from Tartine Bakery, was just the recipe to kick things off. It’s not too sweet (indulge at any hour, including breakfast) and has a wonderfully moist, soft crumb that’s delicately spiced with nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. Pepitas (raw, hulled pumpkin seeds) and sanding sugar add a little glamour and a pleasing crunch. You can use a stand mixer to prepare the batter, but I’ve found it’s just as fast (and more satisfying) to mix up the batter by hand. The cake keeps well, and once fully cooled, you can wrap and freeze it for whenever company calls. But better yet, keep it for yourself and a cup of tea.
Tartine’s Pumpkin Tea Cake
adapted (barely) from the Tartine Cookbook, 2006
- 1 2/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
- one cup + 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (about 9 oz)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons turbinado or sanding sugar, for garnish (optional)
- 2 tablespoons pepitas, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients. In a large bowl, add the pumpkin puree, oil, granulated sugar and salt; whisk to combine. Add the eggs, whisking until well incorporated. Sprinkle half of the dry mixture into the pumpkin mix and fold together with a rubber spatula. Add the rest of the dry mixture and fold until just combined. Transfer the batter to your prepared loaf pan.
Garnish the batter with your sugar and pepitas, if using, and bake in the center of the oven for a little over one hour, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan for about 15-20 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep leftovers out at room temperature, well wrapped, for about 3-4 days.
Note: Pepitas are raw, hulled pumpkin seeds and can be found in Latin markets and natural food stores. They’re delicious as a snack on their own, toasted with a little salt, or in a homemade trail mix with raw almonds, chopped dried apricots and little hunks of dark chocolate.