October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Cake & Sage Ice Cream

I get really crazy for squashes and pumpkins in the fall: soups, cookies, pizza, ravioli, tacos, the list is endless. One of my all-time favorite flavor combos is pumpkin and sage, and I especially love using herbs in a dessert. The moist, spiced pumpkin cake is enhanced by the earthy, lemony sage ice cream.

You can use canned pumpkin or make your own pumpkin puree. The pumpkin is really just a round variety of winter squash, so any sweet, orange-fleshed winter squash works here. I prefer kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), kuri, hubbard, or buttercup squashes, but you can also use the more common butternut or acorn squashes or sugar (pie) pumpkins. Just don't use large pumpkins meant to be carved; they're tasteless!

If you don't have an ice cream maker, you could make sage whipped cream by simply heating the sage and lemon peel in cream, letting it infuse for half an hour, cooling it, and whipping it when cold, sweetening to taste with powdered sugar.

Pumpkin Crumble Cake

Cake Batter
  • 4oz. butter/margarine (1 stick) or shortening
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (1 15oz. can)
  • 1 cup milk (skim through whole, or soy or almond)
  • 2 cups flour (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry, or GF blend)
    • Gluten-free flour blend
      • 1/2 cup cornstarch or potato starch
      • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
      • 1/2 cup white rice flour
      • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
      • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend or make your own:
    • Pumpkin spice blend:
      • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Streusel Topping
  • 1 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry, or GF blend)
    • Gluten-free flour blend for streusel:
      • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
      • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup (gluten-free) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4oz. butter/margarine (1 stick) or shortening
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9"x13" pan. (You may also halve the recipe and use an 8"x8" square pan.)
  2. Make cake batter: cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, milk, and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt, spices). Set aside.
  5. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and blend until smooth. Repeat process adding half the wet ingredients, a third of the dry, the rest of the wet, and the rest of the dry. Do not overmix.
  6. In another bowl, combine all streusel topping ingredients and blend with a fork until crumbly.
  7. Pour half the cake batter into the pan, followed by half the streusel, the remaining batter, and the remaining streusel. With a knife, carefully blend the streusel topping into the top of the cake batter a bit, but leave some of it dry. If you omit this step, the topping can get very dry and fall off the cake easily.
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan.
  9. Cool completely and serve at room temperature with sage ice cream or sage whipped cream.

Sage Ice Cream
  • 2 cups cream + 1 cup whole milk
    • OR, 1 cup cream + 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3-4 strips of lemon zest (use a vegetable peeler on a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon apricot or peach preserves (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh sage leaves, brusied
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2-4 tablespoons alcohol like vodka (or vanilla vodka) or rum
    • (Optional, but the idea here is to lower the freezing point and prevent ice crystals rather than introduce flavor. I use vodka that I've soaked vanilla beans in.)
    • If you don't use vanilla vodka, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or add a vanilla bean to the cream mixture.
  1. Combine dairy, 3/4 cups sugar, salt, lemon zest, preserves, and sage leaves in a pot. Bring just to a simmer and turn off the heat; let steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, beat or whisk egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar until extremely pale yellow in color (the "ribbon" stage).
  3. Bring cream mixture up to about 150 degrees. Temper up to a cup of this mixture into the egg yolks. Transfer mixture back to pot and bring to 180 degrees. Remove from heat immediately.
  4. Let cool to room temperature (at least below 80 degrees) and add alcohol or vanilla extract. Remove lemon peel (and vanilla beans if using).
  5. Puree mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender. Strain and place in a quart container. I like to add about a teaspoon of the pureed sage leaves back into the mixture.
  6. Chill thoroughly, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Freeze in an ice cream maker, place in a container and freeze at least 4 hours before serving.