A little thanks never goes astray

For me, Thanksgiving conjures up images of chilly weather, warm fires, tables laden with roasted meats and veggies and plenty of laughter. In other words, total and utter bliss. Not quite reality in Australia at this time of year but hey, since when has that ever stopped my food fantasies?!

I’ve never lived in a country that observes Thanksgiving (although I was intrigued to discover Norfolk Island does!) but from this outsider’s perspective it feels a lot less commercial than Christmas. The idea of reflecting on just how lucky we are to have what we have, even when that might not seem like a lot is a really worthwhile thing to do. So much so I think I might just start my own Thanksgiving tradition – reflection, thanks, feast and all!

On second thoughts, better add that to the list of New Year’s resolutions (which I realise I have previously admonished) cause it so ain’t going to happen in the next 36 hours. Except maybe the reflection bit, I think I can manage that… and maybe some baking. All that reflecting is surely going to work up an appetite!  As this year is a little last minute, I thought I would give the old family favourite carrot cake a Thanksgiving makeover. Result? A rather tasty pumpkin cake!

Pumpkin cake*

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/8 tsp each of baking powder and baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon and ginger
  • 70 gm hazelnuts, lightly toasted and chopped into quarters
  • 125 gm pumpkin, grated
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 egg whites
  • 60 gm caster sugar (for egg whites)
  • 2 egg yolks and 1 egg
  • 100 gm caster sugar (for yolks)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (for yolks)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Icing sugar, for dusting


  • 20 gm butter, softened
  • 250 gm cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp pouring cream
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  1.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Grease and line two 18-20 cm sandwich tins and set aside.
  2. Twice sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices in a bowl to ensure the flavours are well distributed.
  3. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites together until soft peaks form. With the motor still running, slowly add the sugar, being careful not to over whisk the whites. Set aside.
  4. Beat the egg yolks, egg, sugar and maple syrup together until the mixture is light in colour and has doubled in volume. With the motor still running, slowly add the oil.
  5. Gently fold in the flour mixture to the yolk mixture using a wooden spoon. Add the pumpkin and hazelnuts and stir through.
  6. Add the egg whites, being careful not to over mix (it doesn’t matter if the white is not completely mixed through).
  7. Evenly divide between the sandwich tins and bake for 15 minutes before turning down the oven to 180 degrees celsius and baking for a further 25-30 minutes or until cooked through. Cool completely before removing from the tin.
  8. To make the icing, beat all the ingredients together until completely smooth. If the icing is a little runny, let it set in the fridge for 15 minutes. You want it to be firm but spreadable.
  9. Once the cakes are completely cooled, ice the top of one. Place the other on top and dust with icing sugar to serve.

*This recipe has been adapted from the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook’s carrot cake recipe – still one of the best cookbooks going around and by far the best carrot cake recipe I’ve ever come across. I highly recommend you check it out. Happy Thanksgiving!