The humble pumpkin is one of the most versatile vegetables, from the Andalusian dish alboronia, which matches the full-flavoured orange flesh with roast quince and eggplant, to the age-old pumpkin soup. (I prefer mine spiced up Thai-style.)
I always buy far more pumpkin than I need, with the excitement of so many different dishes to make. Luckily it lasts uncut for weeks in a cool place. It is excellent in sweet dishes, such as pumpkin pie from the southern states of the US. I have also heard Flo Bjelke-Petersen’s pumpkin scone recipe is excellent - a confession from a Queensland friend whose grandmother used to make them.
If swiss roll is a favourite of yours, try this moist, sweetly spiced version - the pumpkin keeps the cake incredibly soft. Roast pumpkin and ecshallots become a delicious light lunch once you add them to pre-made puff pastry, topped with funky washed-rind cheese. I’ll have mine with a cheeky albarino. Cheers!
PUMPKIN SWISS ROLL
170g Jap pumpkin flesh, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
1/4 cup castor sugar
110g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
180g white sugar
250g cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
4 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
Steam the pumpkin until soft, then blend to make a puree. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 38 x 26-centimetre swiss-roll pan with baking paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with the castor sugar. Set pan and towel aside. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla and sugar until thick and pale. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well. Fold in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared tea towel. Carefully peel off the baking paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with a narrow end. Cool on wire rack. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, icing sugar, butter, lemon juice and zest until smooth. Carefully unroll cake and remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Re-roll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
PUMPKIN AND WASHED-RIND CHEESE TART
350g jap pumpkin flesh, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunky 1cm-thick slices
175g eschallots, peeled and cut into halves or quarters
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few rosemary and/or thyme sprigs
150g large, firm mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
100g washed-rind cheese (try King River Gold from Milawa Cheese, or taleggio)
Heat the oven to 190C. Put the pumpkin and eschallots on a large, flat baking tray. Pour over the oil, season and scatter with the herbs. Roast for 30 minutes, stir in the mushrooms and cook for 20 minutes more, until everything is cooked and starting to caramelise. Don’t let it colour too much, because it is cooked more later on. Turn up the oven to 200C. Tip the vegetables into a dish. Lay the pastry sheet on the baking tray and score a border 2 centimetres in around the edges; don’t cut right through. Spread the vegetables over the pastry, leaving the border clear. Slice the cheese thickly and arrange on top. Add more herbs and seasoning, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with a salad of bitter or peppery leaves to balance the sweet pumpkin and shallots.