Every spring, Annabelle Lenderick of La Tercera Farm in Marin County sows seeds for a particular kind of pumpkin specifically for this cake of ours. Throughout the summer, it delights me to think about my pumpkins, called Galeux d'Eysines, growing in their special plot of land in Bolinas, at the very tip of the San Andreas fault. This variety of pumpkin is not known for the beauty of its outer skin, which is covered in warts and bumps. Indeed, the first year Annabelle grew the Galeux, at the end of the market she had plenty leftover that did not sell. I took them back to the bakery and discovered just how gorgeous this pumpkin is for baking. The flavor is subtle and earthy, with a high water content that gives the cake a light and delicate crumb, distinguishing it from the average pumpkin loaf, which is often dense as a brick. You can make a puree from any variety of small sugar pumpkins or use canned pumpkin; stir in 1/4 cup water to loosen the puree. This cake can also be made in two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans. It is delicious glazed with chocolate ganache.
Liberally butter a 10-inch bundt pan and dust with flour. Tap out the excess flour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt into a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs and sugar and whisk on medium speed until well combined and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, slowly drizzle in the oil, and whisk until combined, then whisk on high speed for 1 minute to emulsify. Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the pumpkin puree to the egg mixture and mix on medium speed just until combined. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing just until combined after each addition, approximately 5 seconds each time. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Fold in the walnuts by hand. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake springs back when touched and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run an offset spatula around the edges of the pans, then invert the cakes onto the racks and let cool for about 20 minutes longer. Serve right away, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve and up to 3 days. To freeze, wrap tightly in a second layer of plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Serve at room temperature. Note: To make your own pumpkin puree, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub a small (about 4 pounds) sugar pumpkin well and wipe dry. Cut the pumpkin in half and place the halves, flesh-side down, on a greased cookie sheet and bake until very soft, about 1 hour. Let the pumpkin cool. Scrape out the seeds and stringy fibers and discard. Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and process until smooth in a food processor or pass through a food mill to make a puree. Makes about 2 1/2 cups puree.
Chocolate Ganache: We make 20 gallons of chocolate ganache every week at Miette as it is used in or on many of the things we make. Miette's recipe for this exquisite, velvety ganache is based on a recipe by Robert Linxe in the cookbook from La Maison du Chocolat in Paris, La Maison du Chocolat: Transcendent Desserts by the Legendary Chocolatier, which is why we call it the "MDC" in the bakery. We use chocolate with 62 percent cacao. Guittard and Scharffen Berger are our preferred brands, but feel free to try any chocolate to your taste. Makes about 3 cups 10 ounces 62 percent cacao chocolate, chopped 2/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) sifted powdered sugar 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream 2 large egg yolks 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature Combine the chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Nest the bowl over a pan of simmering water to make a bain-marie. Heat, stirring, until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks together in a small heatproof bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup of the melted chocolate mixture into the yolks while whisking, to temper them. Pour the tempered mixture back into the pan of chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Pour the hot ganache through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean heatproof bowl. Use the ganache immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Ganache does not freeze well. Next, microwave on 50 percent power for 10-second intervals, stirring between each, until the ganache reaches the desired consistency. You will usually need to add 1 or 2 tablespoons of hot water to loosen a cold ganache. For a glossy shine, it needs to return to the mixer for beating. For more specific instructions, see individual recipes.
When ganache is chilled, it quickly hardens to a solid. To reheat for pouring or spreading, scoop it into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute.
Photograph by Frankie Frankeny
Reprinted with permission from Miette by Meg Ray with Leslie Jonath, Chronicle Books copyright (c) 2011