This is an easy cake full of autumn flavours... the warm spices, buttery pecans, and gorgeous pumpkin colour make it irresistible! It takes almost no time to prep and makes the kitchen smell *amazing*! You can use walnuts or almonds instead of pecans.
Pecans are native to the US and Mexico, and are the only type of tree nut that grows naturally in the US. The thin-shelled variety that we all know and enjoy was developed in the mid-1800s by an obviously brilliant slave gardener in Louisiana, using grafts from a wild pecan variety with large, thin-shelled nuts. Pecan trees with large and small nuts are very commonly seen throughout the Louisiana countryside, even in parking lots! Free pecan picking!
I used Louisiana pecans that came from the tree in the photo below. I was back in western Louisiana for a few days and went to one of my favourite places: the St. Augustine Catholic Church (behind the tree). It's a small church in Isle Brevelle, LA, a small town - mostly Creole community - of descendants of French and Spanish colonials, Africans, Native Americans, and Anglo-Americans. The area is calm and extremely beautiful with tree-lined roads winding along the Cane River. The church was established by Nicolas Augustin Metoyer, a freed slave and son of former slave Marie Thérèse Coincoin (read more about her here), and is the first church built by and for free people of colour in Louisiana. After being freed, the Metoyer family went on to own their own plantation - now known as Melrose Plantation - and the church is on land that was then a part of the Metoyers' plantation. Behind the church is a cemetery with headstones dating back to the 1800s, and a handful of recurring last names including Metoyer.
The parking lot is lined with several mature pecan trees and pecan season is October through December. In November, I was in luck! There were pecans all over the ground under the trees... I enjoyed a lot of them while walking around near the river, and brought a lot back to CA. Something local, something natural, something edible: my favourite type of souvenir!
Easy Pumpkin Pecan Cake
makes: 12-14 servings
- 1 cup oil (any neutral oil: safflower, grapeseed, or other)
- 3 eggs
- 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (or 1-3/4 cups pureed roasted pumpkin)
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups sugar (I use demerara but any sugar will do)
- 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tsp. apple pie spice (or an equal parts mix of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Grease one 10-in. bundt pan (or any other cake pan).
- In a large bowl, cream together the oil, beaten eggs, pumpkin and vanilla. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, apple pie spice, and salt together.
- Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the pecans and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 55 min. to 1 hour, or until a tester (I use a bbq skewer) inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a plate and dust with confectioners sugar.
- Serve plain or with ice-cream, whipped cream, or warm custard.