Here at Bistro Gerard our daily menus are mainly inspired both by my personal preferences and by the contents of our weekly fruit and vegetable boxes. Chef Gerald is always very happy when he is around fresh produce, and the opening of a huge box full of crunchy multicoloured goodies has exceptional appeal to him.
Pumpkin has been a favourite of mine since the beginning of the Southern Hemisphere winter and, luckily enough, there seems to be an abundance of it in our weekly box. Mummy and I find this an interesting challenge, as we try to come up with ever changing ideas on how to incorporate it in as many different dishes as possible.
I do not have a preference for a specific type of pumpkin, as long as it is nice and fresh and Mummy or Daddy cut it up for me in such a way that I can sample both the flesh and the seeds. Oh, those fresh juicy pumpkin seeds – why would any discerning parrot want to settle for the dried ones in birdie food mix when you can just sneak up to a huge, freshly-cut chunk of pumpkin left on the bench top especially for you to sample and have the real deal instead?
The cake we are going to share with you today contains quite a few of my other favourite ingredients of the moment, such as banana and dates, as well as that forbidden element which I love but Mummy won’t let me have: butter. But I’ll give you a tip: if you’re really, really quick, you may be able to snatch a quick beakful of butter while Mummy is not looking and, if you’re really lucky as well and place your bite in a not so obvious spot, Mummy won’t even notice straight away. And when she does eventually notice, you’ll get off rather lightly with only a mild warning, as she’ll think you don’t know what you’re being told off for… But it’s all part of what you have to put up with if you’re a little parrot with a passion for butter!
Here is our recipe, which makes a wonderfully moist and light cake, perfect to share with your Mummy and Daddy while they’re having a cup of that strange-looking brown water that’s called tea, apparently.
Pumpkin, Banana and Date Cake Recipe
One large piece (approximately 400 g) pumpkin, cut into chunks
One large very ripe banana
150g medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts (optional)
2 cups (300 g) whole wheat flour
70g unrefined brown sugar (we used coconut sugar)
3 tbsp organic maple syrup
125 g butter, at room temperature, softened
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp buttermilk powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease a 9 x 5in loaf tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
Steam, microwave or roast the pumpkin until soft, then set aside to cool. Then, mash into a bowl together with the banana and chopped dates – you should aim for 2 cups of mash, and you can increase the banana to pumpkin ratio if you prefer. Chef Gerald’s tip: this purée is very yummy, so you might need to ensure your parrot doesn’t eat too much of it before you have a chance to incorporate it in the cake 🙂 Add the maple syrup and mix well. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk powder in a bowl. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk the butter, sugar and spices until soft and smooth, then add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Incorporate the fruit purée, milk and walnuts, then gently fold in the flour mixture. The batter should be quite soft and wet, and it will take quite a long time to bake. Pour into prepared baking tin and bake for approximately 70 – 75 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (it is normal for this cake to turn quite a dark shade of brown due to the sugars, pumpkin and banana caramelizing, however if you feel that it is browning too quickly, cover it with some foil or baking paper and continue baking).