Pumpkin Cake

November 2007

I’ve always been enamored with the idea of fall.  The idea of fall is my favorite season.  In the ideal fall, there would be no school, no work…maybe the result of “leaf days” when a heavy leaf covering would cause forecasters to advise against leaving the house unless absolutely necessary.  I’d lounge in leggings, scrunchy socks and an over-sized sweater selection from a small town.  I’d sink under a patchwork quilt into a feathery, body-conforming couch.  There’d be cottage colors and a crackling fireplace.  There’d be a mug of warm cider held close to my face to feel with warming steam and the scent of mulling spices.  There’d be perfectly angled sunlight and flickering candles.  There’d be a used book with the smell and tatters of its history on every page.

I’m not a cat person, but I’d even venture the presence of a cat by my feet, just for the warm weight and quiet companionship, or maybe there’d be a golden retriever to match the harvest palettes instead.  I would inevitably drift into sleepy dreams and awake to pumpkin or zucchini bread pressing onto a cooling rack and luring all the leafed-in inhabitants to the kitchen with its autumnal aroma.

I didn’t live in a cottage, nor could I claim the weather person had told me to remain homebound, but this fall, I found little ways of living the idea of fall.  First, there was the failed attempt at pumpkin patch picking.  It was actually a commercialized harvest glorification for overweight suburbanites and city dwellers who were unable to discern the difference between authentic and contrived pumpkin picking.  Secondly, there was the apple festival with a pie contest, apple tasting, a Johnny Appleseed look-alike and cider samples.  Finally and most importantly, there was the scent of cake wafting from my oven!

Never in my idea of fall did I envision a cake mold or a box mix.  That would be cheating, thus violating the vision.  The idea of fall is about savoring the changes in the air, in the leaves, in the sky and in the harvest of available ingredients.  The pumpkin innards in the refrigerator were ready to transform, and my vintage healthy cookbook had a dense, grainy recipe for such an occasion.  If I closed my eyes, the heat and the aroma from the oven could transport me to that imaginary couch in the cottage-colored room, with scrunchy-socked feet, under a patchwork quilt.  Cider-simmered spices and baked blends of organics made more than just a cake.  This was a moment in a season and in an ideal.  In a word and a bite, it was fall!

The Recipe

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