Tartine Bakery's Pumpkin Tea Cake
I was in San Francisco a month ago and decided to stop by the famed Tartine Bakery for breakfast. The next day, I went back for lunch and bought one of every small pastry in the case (for scientific research). The obvious next step was to order Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson's cookbook, Tartine, and bring some of their awesome eats to Santa Monica.
Flash-forward to a couple weeks ago when I cleaned out our pantry and learned that my pumpkin pie/cheesecake ambitions outnumbered my follow-through by 8 cans of purée. I recalled seeing a tea cake recipe in the Tartine cookbook and decided to put my doomsday supply of pumpkin ingredients to good use. Baking pumpkin treats in spring is entirely normal since fall will always be the superior season.
I followed the Tartine recipe almost exactly minus some minor notes on the spices, pumpkin purée, and internal temperature (see "Instructions"). Also, the tea cake has a lot of oil. But it's good oil! Don't do the math, just bake and carry on.
I strongly suggest that you measure by weight. It's the only way to bake if you want a repeatable process.
I have to say that I'm really enjoying Tartine's cookbook. The layout is clean, well organized, both volume and weight measurement options are conveniently offered on each page, and the "kitchen tips" at the start of each recipe are a nice touch. The cookbook is useful and pretty so I highly recommend it.
- 1 2/3 (8oz/225g) cups all-purpose flour Note: I used Gold Medal. I'm adding this note since King Arthur is higher in protein/gluten and that may lead to a less tender crumb.
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon Note: The original recipe calls for 5 teaspoons (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) of cinnamon. I cut back to 4 tsp in the first attempt, then bumped it up to 4 1/2 for the cake in the photos. Penzey's cinnamon is pretty strong so I'm stopping at 4 1/2. Baker's discretion.
- 2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground Note: Nutmeg can also be a strong spice so don't pack your teaspoons.
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (9 oz before removing any moisture) canned pumpkin purée Note: The recipe doesn't call for it, but I had a hunch and reduced the moisture in the purée by using the following method from Cook's Illustrated's pumpkin cheesecake. The bread was super moist so I can't imagine what it would have been like if I hadn't done this. For what it's worth, I use Farmer's Market Organic Pumpkin.
- Put a piece of aluminum foil on the counter (for easy cleaning).
- Lay 3 paper towels on top of the foil, then spread your purée out on the paper towels so it's about an inch thick.
- Cover with 3 more paper towels and pat until soaked.
- Lift one side of the bottom paper towels, fold the purée in half (it will peel off on its own), then move it to a new set of paper towels.
- Repeat once or twice.
- 1 cup vegetable oil such as safflower or sunflower Note: I use grape seed oil.
- 1 1/3 cups sugar (9 1/2 oz/270g)
- 3/4 tsp flake-style salt
- 3 large eggs, room temperature Note: My post about eggs and why they should be room temperature, checking for freshness, etc. is here.
- 2 tbsp sugar for topping
Fresh Eggs at Schaner Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market
- Move oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 325.
- Lightly butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan and set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a bowl and set aside.
- Using a whisk attachment with your KitchenAid or other mixer, beat the oil, pumpkin purée, sugar, and salt on medium until combined. Note: Per the cookbook, this recipe can be made by hand.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- On medium speed, add one egg at a time, waiting for each egg to be fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the flour on low speed and stop mixing just before it's combined. Note: Overmixing this batter will lead to a tough crumb.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the flour remaining on the sides of the bowl and fold to combine. Note: If the batter looks lumpy it's probably just air bubbles. I almost kept mixing but then used my hand to feel the texture. Sure enough it was smooth.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan, smooth the surface, and then sprinkle the 2 tbsp of sugar over the top. Note: I use a fine-mesh strainer for even distribution.
- Bake for about an hour (mine takes 65 minutes), or until a cake tester comes out clean. Note: I'm a data-driven baker so I like to measure temperature whenever possible. The internal temperature of my pumpkin tea cake was 190-195 degrees and ended up being perfect.
- Set on a wire rack and let the tea cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
- To remove, carefully invert the pan (taking care not to destroy your crust), and tap the bottom so the tea cake comes out. Note: My tea cake was stubborn so I gently ran a pairing knife around the outer edge. It didn't damage the exterior but helped unstick a few spots.
- Let it cool completely before cutting.
I wrapped the pumpkin tea cake in plastic and left it on the wire rack so air would circulate underneath. It was awesome on days 1, 2, and 3, but by day 4 the texture was drying out a bit (we still ate it though - don't be crazy).