This Pumpkin Tea Cake was created out of the desire to love-on some friends who often bring their own food to gatherings due to allergies. It is always hard for me to see friends unable to join-in and enjoy what everyone else is having, missing out on the connection of sharing the same experience.
At our last couples group, I decided to bring a dessert everyone could enjoy. The challenge was to bring something with the flavor of the season—pumpkin—free of gluten, dairy, vanilla, ginger, or clove.
Honestly, gluten-free I don’t even bat an eye at anymore, but I couldn’t remember ever making pumpkin anything without vanilla, ginger (common in pumpkin pie spice), or dairy. Since I’d made a Pumpkin Spice Tea Cake earlier in the week, I had the flour combination already figured out. Adding coconut flour helped to handle all the moisture of the pumpkin puree, so it was down to figuring out the substitutions for the butter, vanilla, ginger, and clove.
So I get my friend with the longer list of allergies on the phone and while standing in front of my spices, pulled out only the spices she could have, so there’d be no chance for mishaps. Almond extract replaced vanilla; allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be all the spice the pumpkin needed; and coconut oil replaced butter. I’m always a little nervous bringing something to a get-together I have tried first; actually it’s something I advise against. But these are good friends, so I took the risk.
Besides, this small risk made my friend smile, which is always worth it.
They loved it. I loved it. In fact, I liked it better than the previous version I made with the pumpkin pie spice because it was slightly different than the usual pumpkin flavors. The cake is quite moist, reminiscent of pumpkin pie. My friend thought it would be perfect for Thanksgiving, since her allergies meant she would have to avoid the usual pumpkin pie due to the dairy and spices. Although there is certainly less sugar than in pie, this tea cake is still calorie dense since it is made with almond flour, so it is important to consider portion size as with any dessert.
One of the ways we try to avoid the temptation of treats sitting on the counter (they really are hard to ignore!), is freezing half at the time it is made, if possible. (This works most of the time, but small pieces of cheesecake have been known to break off, which must be rescued from the container.) Anyway, while the tea cake was still fresh it went into a Ziploc bag and into the freezer to see if it would be a suitable make ahead treat. I love having muffins, quick breads, and tea cakes in the freezer for unexpected guests or an easy bring-along to a potluck. Last night I pulled it out of the freezer for a taste test with a little whipped cream (the things I do for you) and I am happy to report it was still moist and delicious–can’t say that about many gluten-free baked goods.
Did I mention the simple, yet fabulous maple candied walnuts or pepitas to drizzle on it? Not to be missed!
If you’ve never attempted gluten-free baking, Pumpkin Spice Tea Cake with Maple-Candied Walnuts or Pumpkin Tea Cake with Maple-Candied Pepitas are a wonderful way to start. The simple flour blend and short list of common ingredients make it easy to show some love to your gluten and dairy-free friends.
Love is expressed in so many meaningful ways—hand written notes, a warm embrace, listening ear, faithful prayer, thoughtful gifts, sacrificial service, time shared—and if food isn’t the primary expression, it is often in the midst of it. I love the way preparing something special provides connection with the people with whom we serve and share it.