October 23, 2013

Soup to Nuts: Skip the pumpkin latte and try these lucious pumpkin desserts

Baking with pumpkin means less oil and butter.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

There are so many signs of autumn in Maine this time of year: leaves falling, heaters clicking on, sweaters coming out of the closet.

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Liza Bonnell's pumpkin pecan pie with bourbon cream won second place at the 2013 Damariscotta Pumpkinfest dessert contest.

Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography

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Rebecca Potter’s Pumpkin Brown Cake won the Seashore Trolley Museum’s dessert contest.

Meredith Goad photo

Additional Photos Below

Oh, yeah. There are also pumpkin lattes, pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin-flavored coffee, pumpkin-flavored beer, pumpkin pie-flavored Pop Tarts, pumpkin cream cheese and … well, you get it. (If you have fun keeping track of this kind of stuff, check out the Pumpkin Flavored Everything Facebook page at on.fb.me/1hqV6lt).

If you love pumpkin, why waste the calories on all of this artificial stuff? Real pumpkin is delicious, which is why its flavor has been incorporated into so many mass-produced products. Instead of downing a pumpkin Pop Tart, try baking with pumpkin at home instead.

“Baking with pumpkin is actually somewhat healthy, if you’re going to bake, because it adds a lot of moisture in baked goods so you don’t have to add as much oil or butter,” said Rebecca Potter of Lyman, a nutritionist whose Pumpkin Brown Cake won first place in the Sept. 14 pumpkin dessert contest at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport.

I was a judge at the contest, along with Pamela Laskey, the owner of Maine Foodie Tours, and Christiane Hennedy, chef de cuisine at On the Marsh Bistro in Kennebunk.

Susan Axelrod, staff writer, judged the pumpkin dessert contest at the Oct. 12 Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. The 18 entries ran the gamut from simple and homey to elaborate creations, including pumpkin croquembouche – a version of the classic French tower of cream puffs – and pumpkin-chocolate caramels.

Several of the entries featured other ingredients that overshadowed the pumpkin, which kept them out of the winners’ circle despite being tasty. The judges – including Alysia Zoidis of East End Cupcakes in Portland; Bremen native Jessica Meyers, a baking education instructor for contest sponsor King Arthur Flour; and Damariscotta municipal Judge John Atwood – awarded first prize to Pumpkin Icebox Dessert by 14-year-old Emma Goltz of Damariscotta. It kept the main ingredient front and center with perfectly spiced pumpkin custard on a gingersnap-pistachio crust.

“I took what I liked from one recipe and added and subtracted until I got what I wanted,” said Goltz, a cook and avid baker who had never previously entered a contest.

We’ve compiled a few of the winning recipes, and some that just caught our eye. In all of these desserts, pumpkin is the star.

Rebecca Potter’s Pumpkin Brown Cake

This is really a brown bread, but the raisins make it so sweet her family always calls it cake.

It’s baked in an old coffee can, and Potter remembers having it at Saturday night supper.

“It’s my mother’s recipe,” Potter said. “She adapted it from a children’s book. My father always drank Folgers coffee in a metal can, so that’s what she used. My mother also made her own baked beans, so we’d often have that on Saturdays – baked beans, hot dogs and cole slaw.”

And pumpkin cake for dessert, sometimes with added nuts.

The judges liked the robust pumpkin flavor that shone through, and we could all imagine ourselves settling down on a chilly fall afternoon with a cup of tea and a slice of this cake.


Rebecca Potter, Lyman, first place, 2013 pumpkin dessert contest at Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport.

3 eggs

2 cups pumpkin puree, fresh or 15-ounce can

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup water

21/2 cups flour

21/4 cups sugar

11/2 teaspoons baking soda

11/4 teaspoon salt

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Winners of the 2013 Damariscotta Pumpkinfest Dessert Contest, from left: Tyrrell Hunter, third place; Liza Bonnell, second place; Emma Goltz, first place.

Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography

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Pumpkin icebox pie by Emma Goltz was the first place winner in the 2013 Damariscotta Pumpkinfest dessert contest.

Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography

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Damariscotta Pumpkinfest Dessert Contest first place winner Emma Goltz (left) with contest chair Heather Troidl.

Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography

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Maegan Burke’s pumpkin whoopie pies won second place in the 2013 dessert contest at Seashore Trolley Museum.

Meredith Goad photo

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Ki Leffler’s Orange-Pumpkin Cake Squares with Browned Butter Frosting took fourth place in the museum contest.

Meredith Goad photo


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