Pumpkin oats fruitcake

This recipe is sort of an offshoot of this pumpkin bread pudding recipe:


I was thinking of making it again but I wasn’t sure if I had enough bread; I’ve been experimenting with different grains making gluten free quick breads (made with baking powder, not yeast).  Then it occurred to me to just make the Libby’s pumpkin pie filling and instead of using bread cubes use quick oats.  Quick oats are also rolled oats; they haven’t been pre-cooked or anything, just oat grains cut up before they’re rolled so that they’re smaller and cook more quickly.

Special equipment: I’m doing the recipe by weight so you’ll need a kitchen scale. I’m also not specifying a loaf or bundt pan of any particular size so you’ll determine if the fruitcake is done by using a digital thermometer; 190 degrees F.  You can figure out how much batter you’ll need by using a measuring cup and filling a loaf pan with water.  Mine is a little less than 6 cups capacity.

The basic idea is to make the pumpkin pie filling following the recipe on the can of plain pumpkin (with some tweaks which we’ll get to in a sec), add some quick oats, let it rest overnight, add dried fruits and nuts that have been soaking in liqueur, rum, brandy, etc., and then bake.

For the pumpkin pie pie filling two changes are made.  One is to replace some of the evaporated milk with an egg.  If you use the single pie can of plain pumpkin you’ll take out 50 grams of evaporated milk.  Save it or freeze it, or in my case, just drink it.  Replace that evaporated milk with an additional egg; a large egg weights very close to 50 grams.  The other change is to crank up the spices using the amounts from the King Arthur Flour recipe; double the ginger, add some nutmeg, and add some vanilla.  So the updated spice quantities are

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla

Other than changing the eggs from 2 to 3 and decreasing the evaporated milk by 50 grams and the above spice quantities the recipe is the same as what’s on the can.  (Double these for the 2 pie can of pumpkin pie.)

After you make the pumpkin pie filling you weigh it, then divide its weight by 4, and add that amount of quick rolled oats.  For example, the first one I made I used the large 2 pie can and the weight of the filling was 1,980 grams so for that I’d use 495 grams of quick rolled oats.  If you use the 2 pie can I’d recommend dividing it in half unless your mixing bowl is very large; oats are light and 495 grams of oats is a lot.  That means 2 containers or bowls with 990 grams of pie filling in them and 248 grams of quick oats for each.  For a single pie can of plain pumpkin the numbers were slightly different.  A good spatula with a sharp edge is handy for scraping out the bowls and getting every last bit.

After mixing in the oats cover the bowl with plastic wrap or whatever and put it in the fridge for an overnight rest.  If you remember to, stir it every so often.

The next day drain an appropriate quantity of the soaked dried fruits and nuts. Grease and paper the loaf pan. After the final greasing sprinkle it with flour. Let the fruits and nuts drain while you’re working on the loaf pan.  Then mix the fruits and nuts with the pie filling and spoon it into the loaf pan.  Since there isn’t any baking powder in this recipe it won’t rise in the oven. This means that you can fill the loaf pan right up to the top edge.  The “appropriate quantity” of soaked dried fruits and nuts is up to you.  For example, use half as much dried fruits and nuts as batter. For my loaf pan of about 6 cups I could use 4 cups of batter and 2 cups of dried fruits and nuts.  I don’t pack the fruit into the measuring cup so the spaces between it give me some leeway.   (To be honest I’ve been lax and not measuring how much dried fruit and nuts I’m adding.)  If there isn’t enough batter then it won’t hold together so that’s the main concern; beyond that it’s a matter of preference.

I’ve been baking it at 325 degrees F because it takes longer than a regular cake to bake and at 350 the top is a bit too dark.  And at 325 it takes even longer.  At least an hour and 45 minutes, the last one took 2 hours.  So set your timer and when it goes off take it out and insert the digital thermometer and make sure it’s 190 degrees internally.  If not, back it goes for another 15 minutes.  For the last 15 minutes you can turn the oven up to 350 to get the top browner if you’d like.

The end result is very dense and heavy, not like your usual fruitcake. But in my opinion it’s much better than the usual fruitcake. And because it’s so dense I would not do the usual fruitcake thing of brushing it with rum or brandy because you’d probably end up with a sticky and gooey mess.

For soaking the dried fruits I’ve been using liqueur. For liqueur choices the sky’s the limit. I’ve been soaking each fruit in a different liqueur. Cassis is one of my favorites; it’s made from currants. My next batch will use walnuts that have been soaking in Frangelico, which is made with hazelnuts. Previously the walnuts weren’t soaked. If you chop the dried fruit to be at most pea sized it takes about 3 days to plump up. But longer is better.

Letting the batter rest overnight is important so that the oats fully soak up as much as they can. You may be able to use regular oats instead of quick oats, I’ve only been using quick oats.

You don’t have to stick with oats. I made some with a 50/50 combination of teff flour and buckwheat flour.  It came out very dark and tasted great. For the latest one I used corn tortilla flour (masa).  When used in sweet recipes the sugar neutralizes the strong corn tortilla flavor of the masa and it ends up tasting quite nice, and different, but in a good way.  When experimenting with alternatives to oats you’ll need to be careful about how much you use; some will need more or less. For example, with the masa I used 192 grams. The batter should drop from a spoon, but not be as runny as pancake batter, and I suspect that a thicker batter is better.  When experimenting with different flours you can check the batter’s consistency after it’s rested in the fridge for an hour or so and the flour has soaked up the majority of what it’s going to.  But it will be stiffer from being cold so take that into account.  This isn’t a precise chemistry experiment and we’re using a thermometer to test for doneness so as long as you don’t go overboard on it being too runny or stiff it should come out fine.


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