When the weather starts to turn cool, and the calendar says October, I start thinking about pumpkins. I think about carving a few for Halloween, but mostly I remember how my mother used to grow 'em and use 'em back in Kentucky. She’d start off with the biggest one she could find in the garden, cut its top off, scoop out the “guts” and toss them in the trash. In those days, we were a tiny bit backward and didn’t know you could eat the seeds.

Then, Mom would cut up the flesh of the pumpkin and “cook it down” for a few hours. The result was a bright orange mash that she’d turn into wonderful spicy pies, breads, and cakes. This recipe, however, is not one of my mother’s. It’s one I adapted from the back of a box of Splenda. It started life as a chocolate cake, but since we don’t care much for chocolate cake around our house, I decided to experiment with the recipe a bit.

Take out the chocolate, throw in some spices, some buttermilk, and a mess of pumpkin, and you get a wonderfully moist but not too rich cake. Friends have said it’s like having a piece of good pumpkin pie, but in cake form. The best part is that it’s really easy to make. Put the ingredients in a large bowl, mix well, bake, and enjoy. Your family and friends may well think you fussed for hours (especially if you let ‘em think you cooked the pumpkin from scratch rather than opening a can!).

Here’s a side benefit: this one’s a bit easier on the waistline than most cakes. We’re not adding any fat in this cake – neither shortening nor oil; that duty is instead quite nicely handled by applesauce. I guarantee you won’t miss the fat. There’s no sugar either, because Splenda takes its place. Thou mayest eat of this cake and enjoy it without doing penance. Of course, if you really don’t care for artificial sweeteners, you can use sugar instead.

Are you convinced yet of the essential goodness of this cake? Have you come to the stunning realization that you want to bake it soon? Good, let’s get started then. Preheat your oven to 350° (160° C, gas mark 3), and lightly grease and flour a bundt pan. Don’t skimp on the greasing and the flouring – this is a moist cake, and likely to stick if you don’t go a good job on the pan.


note: Don’t substitute liquid milk for the dry milk, and don’t use “pumpkin pie mix” for the pumpkin.
  • 2 cups (500 ml) self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cinnamon (the quantities of this and the following three spices may be adjusted to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) allspice
  • ¾ (175 ml) non-fat dry milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) baking powder
  • 1½ (7 ml) teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ (1 ml) teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) Splenda

  • ¾ cup (175 ml) unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ (175 ml) whole milk
  • ½ cup (125 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1½ (375 ml) cups pumpkin


Mix all dry ingredients until well blended, and then add the wet ingredients in the order given. Using an electric beater, beat the mixture at low speed just to blend; then beat at high speed for no more than three minutes. Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake rest for around ten minutes or so, then turn it out onto a plate. Since this is a fairly moist cake, it should be kept covered.

There’s no point in telling you to let the cake cool to room temperature, because as soon as it comes out of the oven you’re going to want a slice. That’s a good thing, since this cake is perishable and should be eaten in a couple of days or so. We like to serve it accompanied by a dollop of vanilla pudding and a bit of whipped cream on the top.

This pumpkin cake, with a cup or two of good strong coffee, is just the thing for grey autumn days. A roaring fire in the fireplace is recommended, but optional.

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