The warm, honey-like notes of saffron lend the pumpkin-flecked batter of this cake an addictive quality. Nasturtium butter helps form the cake’s base – adding to its sunset looks and grassy, garden vibe – while the egg yolks deepen the colour and give it a lovely crumbly texture.
150g butternut pumpkin (squash), cut into 1cm cubes
5g nasturtium, marigold or calendula petals
230g caster sugar
170g unsalted butter
4 tsp saffron threads
6 egg yolks
300g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bread soda
icing sugar, to serve
whipped cream, to serve
Add the pumpkin to a steamer set over a saucepan of lightly simmering water and cook until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, then mash 80g of the pumpkin in a bowl until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 175°C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.
In a bowl, rub the flower petals into the sugar using your fingertips. Don’t be delicate here; the more you rub, the more the petals will infuse their flavour into the sugar.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and petal mixture together with the butter and saffron threads for 6 minutes on high speed until creamy and voluminous. Continue to beat on low speed, adding the egg yolks one by one followed by the whole egg, then adding the mashed pumpkin, flour, baking powder and bread soda. Mix together until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin, then gently push 35g of the cooked pumpkin pieces into the batter so they’re evenly distributed. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tin for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with freshly whipped cream.
Extracted from Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb by Haylee McKee (Hardie Grant, approx €22). Photography © Tara Pearce.