I made an executive decision this year on our Halloween pumpkins. Instead of buying carving pumpkins (note the helpful use of the word “carving” in the name), I assured my family that they’d be much happier with pie pumpkins. Sure, they’re a bit smaller. Yes, they may take a bit more work to carve. But we can eat them! Think of the salty roasted pumpkin seeds and the baked pumpkin that will keep us flush with pies, breads, and pancakes for weeks! My daughter’s preschool field trip to a pumpkin patch provided us with two lovely pie pumpkins, and that clinched it. Let’s carve some pumpkins! Fun family activity!
My husband laid out some newspaper, selected a sharp knife, and prepared to carve. He applied some pressure near the pumpkin’s stem, and then some more. The knife didn’t budge. We tried a heavier, sharper knife. No luck. I briefly ponder the fact that pie pumpkins are good for baking precisely because they have a very thick layer of flesh: soft and tender when baked, but seemingly impenetrable by human hands when fresh. After an alarming series of violent stabs in and around the exterior of the pumpkin, my husband abruptly stood up and marched into the garage.
As I gently explained to my kids that maybe it would be better to paint the pumpkins this year, Dave rounded the corner with his power drill. My kids let out squeals of delight. Now this was some good family fun. Who knew a power drill could create such perfectly-sculpted facial features? As tiny flecks of pumpkin flesh flew through the air, our little gathering would never be mistaken for a traditional holiday ritual, but my kids were giddy at the opportunity to take turns holding the drill. And after all that, I got my baked pumpkin.
Much of the drilled pumpkin was used in this holiday bundt cake with maple glaze. Dorie calls this an “all-in-one” holiday bundt cake because it includes so many classic holiday ingredients: pumpkin, spice, cranberries, apples, nuts. It’s all there. This is a lovely bundt cake, full of flavor, but I have one little complaint. Because it calls for butter instead of oil, a choice that prioritizes flavor over texture, the cake was a tiny bit dry. For me, having a soft, moist cake is more important than the extra dose of buttery goodness (though I adore buttery goodness), so next time I would substitute oil and/or applesauce for some of the butter. For the same reason, I also wish I’d used fresh cranberries instead of dried. The cake would have been great with those little gems of plump, juicy flavor (instead of the relatively dry, chewy texture of dried cranberries). All in all, the elements are in place for a great holiday bundt cake, but it’s worth playing around with a few ingredients to make it your own.