Make elegant Pumpkin Pie Bars in under 20 minutes, including the fun of decorating them! I used maple leaves as a natural stencil but you can use real leaves of your choice or cut leaves from paper. This something-for-nothing recipe uses pumpkin puree made from my Halloween Jack o' Lantern, but you can use canned pumpkin puree.
Active time: 18 minutes. Total time: 55 minutes. Serves 6. Doubles well. Vegan.
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (180 grams)
2 tablespoons finely-ground flaxseed (14 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (195 grams)
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned but not pumpkin-pie mix) (300 grams)
3/4 cup sunflower seed oil or other neutral vegetable oil (160 grams)
1/4 cup raisins (40 grams)
2 teaspoons powdered sugar for decoration (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
- In a mixing bowl, use a fork to stir together flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Add brown sugar and stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth using a big spoon or an electric mixer. As you add the pumpkin puree, do a happy dance if you made your own (free pumpkin! less waste!) or if you didn't (all that time saved!).
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is firm and tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let Pumpkin Pie Bars cool for at least 10 minutes to firm up. Cover when cool. Keeps at room temperature for six hours and refrigerated for five days. They are delicious warm and firmer but also delicious chilled.
- Decorate bars just before serving if desired so the powdered sugar is dry and visible. Rinse leaves, pat dry, and arrange on top of cake. Next time, I'll keep the stems on the leaves.
- Put powdered sugar into a strainer and shake gently over the leaves.
- Carefully remove leaves so any sugar on them doesn't fall back onto the cake. Cut Pumkin Pie Bars and serve.
- Oil-free version update: I left out the oil with the hope that the pumpkin would provide enough moisture. Unfortunately, the result was so rubbery and bland that we did something very rare in the Cook for Good kitchen: we threw the cake out after my Taster and I each tried two bites each. (First bite: oh, it can't be this bad! Second bite: toss it!) You could probably get decent results by cutting the oil in half, but this is not the recipe to leave it out all together.
- Gluten-free version update: I used King Arthur's "glutenfree multi-purpose flour" in place of white whole wheat flour. The result was good but somewhat grainy. One neighbor loved it and another declined to comment. It's probably better than most store-bought gluten-free desserts, but if you can eat gluten, then stick with the original recipe.
- Decorate other dark cakes wit this thrifty and quick powdered-sugar trick. You'll get a beautiful cake with less fat and sugar than a frosted version will have.