Here's a dense, moist cake packed full of delicious spices. Perfect for damp, dark afternoons it contains dried chillies to warm your heart and lift your spirits! I used this lovely recipe from BBC Good Food and made a few adjustments. I used two of the beautiful Spice Mountain cascabel chillies that I got for my Birthday - simmering them with honey before adding them to the cake mix helped unlock all the rich flavours. I think the chilli has lent an overall warmth to the cake and I love how you get a full on hit of fiery flavour when you come across a seed.
For the cake...
375g plain white flour
375g light muscovado sugar
3 1/2 tsp mixed spice
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Good pinch of salt
5 eggs, beaten
250g butter, melted
Zest 1 1/2 oranges
Juice of half an orange
625g (peeled weight) pumpkin or butternut squash (I used a butternut squash because I think they taste better)
2 dried cascabel chillies, soaked overnight in water (you could add more or less depending on how much you like your chilli. Regular chilli flakes would work too!)
For drenching and icing...
200g soft cheese
85g butter, softened
100g icing sugar, sifted
Zest of one orange and juice of half
Pre-heat the oven to 180c (160c for a fan oven). Grease and line a 22 x 32 cm rectangular baking tin.
In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Finely chop the chillies (a blender with a mini chopper attachment will do this in a split second!). Place the pulverised chilli in a saucepan with the honey and simmer gently for a few minutes to release the delicious oils. Place the sultanas in a bowl and pour over the chilli honey mixture. Stir quickly to combine then add to the bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients.
Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, then mix with the dry ingredients until combined. Stir the grated pumpkin into the batter and pour into the tin. Bake for around 40 minutes until golden and springy to the touch and a knife inserted into the centre comes out free from the liquid batter.
Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes to cool slightly, then turn out onto a wire rack. Prick the cake all over with a cocktail stick then brush with a little of the orange juice. Leave the cake to cool completely whilst you make the icing.
Beat the butter, cream cheese and orange zest together until fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat again until the whole mixture becomes pale and fluffy. Spread over the cake and leave in the fridge for a few minutes to set.
This cake feels just right for this time of year and I hope you'll be inspired to spice up your baking too!