The incredible green cake
June 3rd, 2009

Some ingredients have a leased line to my heart, if they show up in a recipe’s ingredient list or – even better – in the recipe’s headline, I’m sold and on my way to the kitchen. Chorizo certainly is one of them, poppyseeds of course are another one and every rather unusual ingredient can be, too. The smallest green glass bottle in my little team of oil bottles belongs to this family – it holds a dark green liquid, that the Austrian region Styria is well-known for: pumpkin seed oil. And no, Lou Ferrigno has not been involved – at all. It’s a happy cake.

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Pumpkin seed oil with its unique nutty taste is my personal cherry on top: just a drizzle can refine soups (pumpkin! potato!) and salad dressings. And it lends one of my top three all-time favorite desserts (semifreddo with roasted pumpkin seeds) an irresistible flavor. So how could I have missed out on another Styrian classic – the pumpkin seed oil cake? Having raved about ARTE’s food documentaries in the past, I occasionally surf their website for inspiring recipes and this is what I found. The pictured cake showed a slightly greenish yellow color, nothing too far from the ordinary, so the color alone wasn’t the initial and compelling reason for me to get started in the first place. A fortiori I was pleased with the final result: starting to slice my first baked loaf, the color had turned out much deeper than I would have remotely hoped for, in fact is was the brightest green I have come across in non-artificially colored baked goods (the pictures don’t do the real thing justice). Even greener than my pistachio cake!

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The cake was a big hit with everybody (I made a few changes to the original recipe, e.g. omitted the water and used butter instead), Oliver even asked for it two weeks in a row, something he usually only does with apple cakes. Yet some of my guinea pigs where having trouble detecting the color-giving ingredient. Matcha powder? Sencha tea? Ground pistachios? In my opinion this loaf has a distinct nutty, maybe a little hay-ish flavor note, so all three guesses are not too far from the truth. Anyway, if your looking for a different kind of coffee cake with a wonderful moist crumb – pleasing to the eye and highly seductive – this may be your recipe.

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Preheat the oven to 180°C (355° Fahrenheit). Dry-roast pumpkin seeds in a large pan over medium heat until they start to make cracking sounds and gain some golden color. Pour into a bowl and let cool down, then grind them finely in a food processor.

Prepare the loaf pan (or any other cake molds): Grease the pan with 1 tbsp butter, then dust it with either breadcrumbs, flour or finely chopped pumpkin seeds – whatever you have at hand. Set aside.

Beat together soft butter, sugar and the pinch of salt in a large bowl, then add the pumpkin seed oil and continue for some minutes (I used my KitchenAid, level 4, for about 3 minutes). Separate the egg yolks and whites (set aside the whites for later use), then add the egg yolks to the batter and beat for two more minutes or until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add the ground pumpkin seeds to the bowl, then sift in the flour and baking powder and mix together on low speed just until evenly combined (the batter will be rather thick).

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff, then add one third of it to the batter and stir it in with a rubber spatula (the batter is still to thick to fold it in properly). Now carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites until just incorporated.

Fill the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven (middle level) for 50 to 60 minutes (this cake usually rises beautifully, but may collapse a little during the last 15 minutes – however, I didn’t recognize any negative impact, neither visual nor concerning the cake’s flavor). The cake is done when an inserted wooden skewer comes out clean. Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before releasing it from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar or glaze with white chocolate once the cake has cooled down completely.

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Pumpkin seed oil cake

Recipe source: adapted from this recipe

Required time: prep. 20 min., baking 50-60 min.

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Ingredients (for one loaf cake):

100g pumpkin seeds

150g soft butter, plus 1 tbsp extra for greasing

2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs (or flour or finely chopped pumpkin seeds)

4 eggs (M)

250g sugar

a pinch of fine sea salt

100g pumpkin seed oil

250g all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

finish: dust with powdered sugar or glaze with melted white chocolate

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