Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pumpkin & Walnut Spiced Squares - Hiding Veggies With The Daring Bakers!

 Hidden veggies - a common conspiracy mommies often resort to in a bid to get the kids to eat some veggies and fruits which are otherwise considered 'YUCC..KKY' no less! These despised fruits and veggies haunt you from the aisles of the veggie store or cart and the mommy scheming mind starts contriving ways to camouflage these in goodies which will hopefully be seen as 'YUMMY!' The treat is served with a louder than usual 'tadaa!' which puts the kids' antennae on alert mode. Suspicious, hesitant little bites at first and then bigger bites, more helpings. And then its confession time. Treading on ice, dreading delayed rejection you tell them, 'Guess what, there is a surprise in this. The name starts with C/B/P.  Yes, carrots/bananas/pumpkins etc etc. Isn't it so good? Umm..think we can make this now and then? Yes?'' Grin, grin!

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

 Sneaking in veggies into food is something I often do, but not as often in sweet baked treats, so this was going to be a surprise for the mommy as well! Carrot cake did sound super tempting to bake, then zucchini cupcakes and bread and pumpkin pies! The Daring Bakers were turning really adventurous, some of them using spinach, avocados and peas too in their bakes! Being a not-so-daring Daring Baker, I thought sweet pumpkin should be a good start.  A very common vegetable used in baking, ever so often seen in pies, scones, doughnuts, muffins, cookies and breads. But then, not so common in our country in baked goods, canned pumpkin puree unheard of.

I made pumpkin puree for the first time, its really quick and easy. It stayed well in the refrigerator the next day (supposed to stay good for a week). But a part of it frozen turned out to be so much more watery when thawed than the fresh, thick, smooth one.

These light, tasty squares from All Recipes , spiced with cinnamon and cloves make a nice tea-time snack or a kiddie snack box treat. You could omit the spices and use vanilla and nuts or just vanilla and chocolate chips. My kids loved them! And I see myself experimenting with the vegetable puree more often!

The reviews mention cakey squares, but I did not want them very cakey, so I have reduced the amount of baking powder. Also have replaced part of the oil with yogurt. Below is the original recipe halved.

Eggs - 2 large
Oil - 1/4 cup / 60 ml
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Pumpkin puree - 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract - 1/2 teaspoon ( use 1 teaspoon if omitting spices)
Sugar, fine - 200 grams / 1 cup ( Will reduce next time by a tablespoon or so, even less if using chocolate chips)
All purpose flour - 125 grams
Ground cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon
Ground cloves - 1/4 teaspoon
Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Baking soda - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Toasted chopped walnuts - 1/3 cup

Procedure: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Grease, line and flour a 9'' square tin. Keep aside.
  • Sift together the flour, spices, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Take the eggs, oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin puree in a medium sized bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly. 
  • Stir in the flour mixture with a spatula. Stir in the walnuts or the chocolate chips. The batter will be the consistency of brownie batter. Spread in the baking tin, smooth the top.
  • Bake for about 22-25 minutes or till the top is light golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes on a rack. Remove from the tin, cool completely and then cut into squares.
To make the pumpkin puree. I have followed the general procedure of making this in the pressure cooker, after reading several common methods. About 1/2 kilo of pumpkin with skin made about 1 1/4 cup of puree.

Remove the skin and the fibrous, seedy part of the pumpkin. Cut into cubes. Place the cubes in a vessel in the pressure cooker. Do not put water in the container. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Switch off .Let the pressure drop. Allow to cool. Drain any liquid left with the cubes in a mesh colander. Mash thoroughly and process in the mixer till completely smooth. Use just enough water (2-3 teaspoons) to facilitate the motor.

Measure the needed quantity of puree and use.

I liked this basic recipe and hope to experiment and play around with different purees and amounts of leavening for varying textures.

Thanks Ruth, enjoyed the hidden veggies!


Unknown said...

wow wow!!! love the aroma and flavor of pumpkin in baked goodies!!
Ongoing Event - HITS - Diabetic Friendly
Ongoing Event + Giveaway - Italian Dishes

Hamaree Rasoi said...

Cakes look so delicious and inviting. Wonderfully prepared.

Unknown said...

Beautifully spiced cake :) love the gorgeous color

divya said...

Wow it was just awesome... Bookmarked

Priya Suresh said...

This month's daring bakers challenge sounds fabulous, can see in many blogs how to feed easily veggies through bakes; Spices squares looks fabulous;

FewMinute Wonders said...

Looks very soft and light.

Unknown said...


How i can replace the eggs? I am new to baking.. Like your blog and i am from bangalore very informative

Torviewtoronto said...

delicious combination of flavours

Manu C S said...

A tip for making pumpkin puree: you don't even have to de-skin or de-seed the pumpkin when you put it into the pressure cooker.
I always clean the pumpkin and place it whole in the pressure cooker with some water, then cook for about 5-6 whistles, lower heat and cook for about 5 minutes and then turn it off.
Wait for the cooker to cool and then remove.
The pumpkin will be soft and it's so much easier to cut through it, de-seed it and peel off the skin!
Saves tons of time & effort :)

Priya said...

It looks soo yummm, Suma!!