Japanese Pumpkin Olive Oil Chocolate Cake

It’s finally spring here and the flowers are blooming! Oh how I love the beauty that surrounds us and the creepy insects that keep me hidden away indoors instead of outdoors. =P

But I know that on the other side of the world, it’s fall and the start of pumpkin season.

And what better way to use up those pumpkins than to make a cake with it?

I love the sweetness of Japanese pumpkin, a little salt and you have a sweet savoury dish, a little sugar and it’s a dessert. But should you not find any Japanese pumpkin around you, feel free to substitute with another variety. Just note that the final product will taste slightly different but still delicious.

Japanese Pumpkin Olive Oil Chocolate Cake

Adapted from the Gjelina Cookbook

What you’ll need

Cake Base

  • One 750g piece of Japanese pumpkin, skin on and seeded
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, plus 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp [255 ml]
  • 1 1/2 cups [180 g] all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups [265 g] granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 220g bittersweet (54%) chocolate chips

Olive Oil Glaze

  • 150 g icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp hot water
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cocoa nibs

Making it!

Baked Pumpkin Puree

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Slice pumpkin into 2 pieces and drizzle with olive oil. With one of the cut side facing down, toast for 30 – 45 minutes until soft and fork tender (check to ensure it’s not burning. If it starts to get dark, lower the heat to 350F/180C).
  3. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  4. Scrape the flesh from the pumpkin and transfer to a food processor and process until smooth.
  5. Set aside until ready to use. (Alternatively, you can make this up to 2 days in advance storing it in the fridge)


  1. Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). Butter and line a 9″x5″ loaf pan.
  2. (Optional Step) Transfer the pumpkin puree to a nonstick pan/pot and heat it until it starts to steam. Continue to cook it over low heat for another 1 – 2 minutes constantly stirring to ensure you do not burn the puree.
    Set the puree aside to let cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk to ensure the spices are evenly dispersed.
  4. Measure out 1 cup of the pumpkin puree and in a medium sized bowl whisk it together with the sugar, oil and eggs.
  5. Make a small well in the middle of the flour mixture and slowly pour in the pumpkin mixture whilst whisking slowly.
    Mix until just combined, take care not to over mix it. You do not want a tough cake.
  6. Add the chocolate chips to the batter and give it a mix.
  7. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan.
  8. Bake for 75 to 90 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when testing.
  9. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing from the pan and leaving the loaf to cool for another 20 minutes on the rack.
  10. Make the glaze.

Olive Oil Glaze

  1. Whisk icing/confectioners sugar with the hot water until it’s the consistency of honey. Add more or less sugar as needed to achieve the right consistency.
  2. Whisk in 1 tbsp of olive oil at a time ensuring that the olive oil is fully incorporated before adding the next.


  1. Drizzle the glaze over the loaf (you can use a spoon to spread the icing on the cake to control the thickness of the glaze that lies on the cake)
  2. Top with a sprinkle of cocoa nibs for crunch.

Enjoy it and leave no crumbs behind!

If you so happen to have leftovers (who are you?), you store the cake in an airtight container wrapped in a layer of cling wrap for up to 3 days.


  • I used 3 mini loaf pan (14 cm x 8 cm x 6 cm high) and baked for 35-40 minutes.
  • You can skip the heating of the puree in a pan if you wish, but that step helps to evaporate some of the moisture aids with concentrating the flavour of the pumpkin.
  • I added salt and rosemary to the left over pumpkin puree to give it a savoury note and snacked on it whilst waiting for the cake to bake.

Let me know how you go if you do try this recipe! =)


One Comment Add yours

  1. Marina Dennett says:

    this is sooooo delicious.


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