A Cake for Miranda the Tropical Storm

My friend Miranda came and helped me in the garden last week.  She’s a miracle out there, doing what she refers to as “aerobic weeding”, keeping pace with me, maybe even working a little bit faster!  We ripped out juniper, dug and pulled weeds, clipped back iris and lilies and moved perennials, filling barrel after barrel to dump into her truck.  When lunch time rolled around, I dragged her away from the garden and into my kitchen.  I assembled elaborate chickpea salad sandwiches on toasted sourdough bread.  She was pushing herself away from the table when I made it clear we would not be returning to work until we ate dessert.

“Pumpkin gingerbread.  You have to try it!”

“Oh, twist my arm,” she said with a grin.

I cut us each a thick slice.  She took her first bite.

“I have to have this recipe.  I will read your blog if you put this recipe on there!”

“No problem.  I’ll get it up there today.”

Or not.

I saw Miranda again Saturday night at a Halloween costume dinner party.  She wore a fantastic costume—a tropical dress and blouse, Mardi Gras beads, a straw hat with the side pinned up as if the wind was right in the room, holding it up in place.  She carried a devil’s red pitchfork, a last minute addition to the outfit, making the name of her costume the Tropical Storm from Hell.  She looked gorgeous, with her face pink from spending the day outside gardening in the cold autumn wind.

Because I knew she would be at the party, I made the cake again.  I brought it warm to the table; the smell of pumpkin, ginger and lemon filled the room.

“Please, please.  I want this recipe!”

After dinner, I wrapped the leftover cake and gave it to her to take home.  I have a feeling that, although she is not fond of the kitchen, she will make this herself.  After she reads my blog to get the recipe, of course!

Pumpkin Gingerbread


1 c sourdough starter (optional)* (See note at bottom of recipe)

3 T ground flax seed whisked together with 1/2 c plus 1 T water

scant 2/3 c extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 c sugar

1/4 c molasses

2 T fresh grated ginger root

zest from 1 lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 c cooked fresh pumpkin* (You can use canned pumpkin, but in this recipe, the fresh really makes a taste difference.)

2 c whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp ground dried ginger

cinnamon sugar for sprinkling the baking pan


Preheat oven to 350 ° F.

First, whisk together the ground flax seed and the water.  Set aside.

Oil a bundt pan or pretty cake mold pan with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. (I use a pretty flower cake mold pan.  You can also use a 9×13 baking pan.)

In a large bowl, combine starter if you are using it, sugar, molasses, vanilla, and oil.  Use a large whisk to combine well.  Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the flour, the salt, the baking powder, the baking soda, the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and dried ginger.  Combine with a fork or a dry whisk until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated into the flour.

Whisk the starter and sugar mixture again, then stir and add the ground flax seed mixture and whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Whisk in the lemon zest and the fresh grated ginger.

Add the fresh pumpkin and whisk until the pumpkin is pretty well incorporated.  A few chunky pieces are okay.  If the pumpkin is very chunky, use a fork to mash it a bit and whisk again.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl.  Stir the wet and dry together using a large wooden spoon or spatula.  You don’t need to over-mix, just watch to be sure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Pour the batter into the bundt or cake pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center is just firm to the touch.  You can also test by inserting a toothpick into the thickest part of the cake and pulling it out.  It should come out dry.  If you are using a 9×13″ baking pan, bake for about 30-35 minutes.

Allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  If you use the 9×13″ baking pan, just cut into squares and serve right from the pan.


Since we have become vegan, I have changed the starter only by changing the cow’s milk to either almond, soy, or hemp milk.  It has not changed the flavor or affected the fermenting process.  For the other cake recipes that stem from the starter, the ground flax seed and water mixture substitutes for the eggs.  The basic sub is:  1 T ground flax seed whisked together with 3 T water = 1 egg.  So far, this has worked perfectly for all baked goods.

Never cooked a pumpkin before?  No problem!  Select a sugar pumpkin—those are the little ones, not the ones we carve for Halloween.  Wash the pumpkin and cut it in half vertically.  Scoop out the seeds and strings with a big spoon.  Line a cookie sheet with foil, oil the foil lightly, and place the two pumpkin halves, cut side down, on the cookie sheet.  Bake at 425 º F for about 40-45 minutes, or until soft.  (The skin will turn light brown, maybe even a little bit darker in some spots.)  Remove cookie sheet from oven and, when the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop/scrape the flesh from the skin.  Mash with a fork.   You can puree the pumpkin flesh in a food processor if you like your pumpkin very smooth.  Pumpkin freezes well, too.  Measure by cupfuls and freeze in containers or freezer storage bags for up to 6 months.

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2 Comments on “A Cake for Miranda the Tropical Storm”

  1. michelle Says:

    Thanks for explaining the starter to me. Glad I don’t have to wait two weeks. So excited to try. I have a little sugar pumpkin just waiting to be cooked. I will pass on the starter to some of my friends. I just now need to have patience and wait for it to be ready.

  2. twiri Says:

    wow wow and wow

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