I don’t remember the first time I met Dodger, but I’ll always remember his instrumental role in my retirement from turf harvesting.
I’d stepped off the harvester to stretch my back which was suffering for having to support myself and the internal parasite that would become the Big Sister. Bearhands was reversing the harvester up the paddock to start another row when Dodge pulled up. He saw my predicament and forgetting his own plans for the morning, ordered me off the tractor. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I didn’t get back on for almost two years.
Dodge and his brother Greg are farmers. They grow watermelons, chokos and pumpkin. This season they’re growing Queensland Blue. Queensland Blue were my Poppy’s favourite pumpkins – they’re full of flavour and they hold their form when cooked which makes them perfect for roasting.
There are lots of American recipes around for pumpkin cake, but they call for pumpkin in a can, which I haven’t ever seen here. This cake uses fresh grated pumpkin. Top it with cream cheese frosting and watch it disappear.
fresh pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting
1¼ cups (250g) brown sugar
¾ cup (185ml) vegetable oil
1½ cups wholemeal plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
2 cups grated pumpkin
1 cup grated green apple
75g chopped pecan nuts
for cream cheese frosting
250g cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup icing sugar, sifted
1½ tbs lemon juice
zest of half a lemon
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cream the sugar and oil in an electric mixer for about 2–3 minutes. Add the eggs individually and beat well.
Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger and add to the sugar mixture.
Add the pumpkin, apple and pecans and mix until just combined. Pour into a prepared 22cm-square cake tin and bake for 55–60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Remove and allow to cool in the tin.
For the cream cheese frosting, process the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add the icing sugar lemon juice and zest and process until smooth. Spread frosting on the cooled cake.
The Big Sister ate two pieces of this cake, despite her protests that she doesn’t like pumpkin. or brown foods.
Over the years Dodge has made a habit of turning up when I need him the most. Last week after I baked the cake, I phoned and asked him if he might have time to call in to collect it. I was preparing roast lamb for dinner when he arrived. I’d just opened the bag and discovered it was spoiled, when Dodge stepped through the door. In his hands was a family sized meat pie. I could have kissed my knight in shining pie tin. In fact I did!