Pumpkin and bee pollen cake
This dreamy recipe comes from me to you as a celebration of summer as it draws to an end once more. A cool and creamy cake with a subtle salty, kind-of-caramel, pumpkin layer, light lemon center and walnut base. Finished with a sprinkling of crunchy bee pollen deliciousness. It is truly as divine as it looks.

This recipe is dedicated to my friend Tomomi, the first ever guest on Keke. Her incredible Osaka pumpkin and tofu cake was the initial kernel of inspiration for this treat.

As some of you may know I have been a guest contributor over on The Design Files every Tuesday this month. It’s been a joy developing recipes that explore my love for wholesome vegetarian Japanese food. And as a result my kitchen table has been awash with Japanese flavours for most of this year. Bonus! Follow the links for my Zakkokumai nori rolls with pickled daikon, Matcha and avocado popsicles dipped in white chocolate, Walnut, mushroom and miso pocket and Sake roast pumpkin salad with pickled ginger and umeboshi plum vinegar.

Bee pollen
Bee pollen is flower pollen that has been collected by bees and carried on their mini legs to their hives. Just before they enter the hives the good mannered bees wipe their feet at the entrance. It is from here that the bee pollen is collected. Just like honey all bee pollens have a different flavour depending on what flowers the bees have been busying themselves with.

Yes, eagle eye you have not been mistaken, there is no bee pollen shown in these images. Why? There are two answers. One, because the bee pollen needs to be sprinkled on the top of the cake immediately before serving so it remains crunchy. And two...because I forgot to include it. Doh. It is however a vitally important addition to this cake! Unless you’re on a shoestring then you MUST include it. It gives this cold creamy cake a crazy healthy Golden Gaytime ice-cream vibe. Completely genius!

Crust ingredients
14 medjool dates
½ heaped cup of walnuts
a pinch of celtic sea salt

For crust
1. Line just the base of a 20 cm spring-form pan with a sheet of baking paper that is bigger than the base. Your paper should be hanging out the edges about 4 cm all around as pictured. Now attach the top of the pan so the cut hangs out the side. This will allow you to side the cake off the base of the pan easily.
2. Add all ingredients to a blender and ‘chop’ just enough so that everything mixes together. You want an even consistency but you don’t want to blend for too long or you will end up with paste. It’s best if there are visible chunks of walnuts. I recommend you pulse for a couple of seconds, loosen mixture with spatula and pulse again. This will all depend on your blender.
3. Transfer mixture to pan and again making use of a spatula spread across to even it out.

Cake ingredients
1 cup of Japanese pumpkin
1 cup soaked raw raw cashews
½ cup (drained) silken tofu
⅓ cup coconut oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tbsp kudzu powder (read up about it here)
1 tsp ground vanilla
splash of pure vanilla essence
1 tbsp white miso paste
juice of 1 lemon
bee pollen for serving

For cake
1. Cut pumpkin in 3cm x 3cm cubes, steam and set aside. You may like to do this a day in advance as you want the pumpkin to be completely cool.
2. In a blender combine drained cashews, tofu, coconut oil, maple syrup, kudzu, ground vanilla and pure vanilla essence. Blend on highest setting until completely smooth and with zero graininess. In a high power blender this will be very quick.
3. Remove ½ cup of the cashew mixture from blender and set aside.
4. Add the lemon juice to the remaining mixture in blender and pulse a few times to combine.
5. Pour the contents of blender into the cake pan and gently bang on kitchen counter until the layer appears even.
6. Now return your ½ cup of cake mix to blender along with pumpkin and miso. Blend until you have a smooth even consistency.
6. Pour the pumpkin layer on top of the white layer and again gently bang the tin on the countertop.
7. Leave cake in freezer for a good eight hours.
8. Remove from freezer and carefully release cake from tin. Slide cake onto a serving plate and allow to defrost a little. It should be cold and set but not frozen. Sprinkle either entire cake or each individual piece with bee pollen just before serving...this depends on how much you’ll be eating in one sitting.
9. Slicing this cake takes some care. I recommend cleaning your knife and brushing it with coconut oil between each cut. A cake server will also come in handy. Store cake tightly covered in the fridge for up to four days.

Photos by Brooke Holm.