Hello Bakers, Halloween is this weekend so I couldn’t resist but test a few pumpkin recipes. Those of you who follow me on socials know that I’ve recently added pumpkin cookies to my online bake shop; they’re called Pumpkin Softies and are basically delicious mini cakes in disguise. You can order them here.
These speedy pumpkin bars are exactly what it says on the tin. To make the cake batter takes about 10-15 minutes from the moment you take your ingredients out of the cupboard. Yes, it’s that quick! What’s more, you’ll be pleased to hear it’s a two bowls and a spatula affair where dry ingredients are added to the wet ones. A few stirs later it’s ready to go into the oven. It bakes for about 30 minutes while you’re mixing up some super easy vanilla frosting.
Canned pumpkin, which is an essential ingredient here, is usually available in supermarkets at this time of the year. The brand I use is called Baking Buddy and you can get it at Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s. One 425g can, which is all you need for this recipe, costs £1.60 and is as far as I’m aware the cheapest available. I’ve tried other brands and couldn’t tell the difference in terms of quality. Ocado sells America’s Finest canned pumpkin which you can also find at Waitrose. Wholefoods does Bakeroo and you’ll find America’s most famous brand Libby’s, featured in many baking videos, in some small upmarket independent shops. (I’m not getting paid for mentioning any of the above by the way. :-))
Pumpkin puree is what makes these bars deliciously moist, it’s also slightly sweet but it has to be said that it tastes otherwise a bit bland. Therefore, it needs to be paired up with some fragrant spices to create an ultimately mouth-watering combo of the right texture and flavour. I like experimenting with spices and I make my own mixture which in this case is five spices: allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. However, if it sounds like too much hustle, simply substitute them with just under four teaspoons of ground mixed spice. It’s a similar concept – a few spices already combined, it’s available pretty much everywhere.
As promised, it’s a fool-proof, no-faff recipe. You mix most of your dry ingredients in one bowl, then combine the wet ingredients and sugar in another. Next, you mix the two together. All you need is a spatula, no electric mixer is necessary. There’s no creaming or incorporating air into the batter to aid raising, leavening agents will do all the work for you. Hence no need for the hand mixer.
The frosting is one of my favourite frostings of all time. You may remember I used it in my carrot cake recipe last year. Cream cheese frosting will work in this recipe too but I’ve opted for the vanilla mascarpone cheese version. Why? I quote one of my friends: “It tastes like spreadable vanilla ice cream”. Again, it takes minutes to make and you just need a bowl and a balloon whisk. Make sure that both mascarpone cheese and double cream are COLD, ideally straight from the fridge.
I’m all for natural decoration so I usually slice the orange I just zested and cut it into small triangles. Then I divide the cake into 20 square-ish bars and place one orange piece on each of them. Sprinkling the bars with chopped nuts such as pistachios or walnuts or toasted almond flakes will work very well too. Otherwise, if you’re thinking life’s too short and you’re going for a Halloween theme, use orange sprinkles, little sugar pumpkin, bat or ghost cake toppers, hundreds and thousands and so on. It’ all about having fun after all!
Rectangular baking tin 10 in x 15 in / about 24 ½cm x 35cm
Makes 20 bars
For the frosting:
Spread the love if you enjoyed this recipe – give me a like, leave a comment or both. Tag me on Facebook @riseandshinebaking or Instagram @riseandshine_baking and don’t forget to use hashtag #bakewithriseandshine. Thank you.Download the recipe