Vintage Vittles: Ayres’ Pumpkin Fingers

Written by on December 21, 2013 in Vintage Vittles - No comments
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From Gimme Some Oven

Hello, HI-ers! It’s my birthday today. Yes, I’m turning the big ol’ 25 — officially one quarter of a century old. I’m usually tasked with bringing cakes to different family and friend birthday parties, but what does one do on her own birthday when she’s the designated baker? Why, make yourself your favorite treats anyway, of course!

This recipe comes to us from the L.S. Ayres’ Tea Room Recipes and Recollections book. Yes, they’ve got more than Chicken Velvet Soup there! These delightful little finger cookies are the perfect treat for the holidays, or just because.

And, in exciting news, the L.S. Ayres Tea Room is open for the holidays (and decorated accordingly!). From the management:

“This is an exciting time of the year at the Indiana State Museum as we welcome back families that have made the L.S. Ayres Tea Room a significant part of their holiday experience,” said Indiana State Museum Vice President of Operations Susan Dyar. “This year Kahns Catering has prepared an amazing menu including tea room classics like Chicken Velvet Soup, as well as a variety of new offerings. We’re sure visitors of all generations will find something they’ll enjoy.”

Stopping at the Ayres Tea Room is a tradition for so many Indianapolis residents — maybe it’s time to make it a tradition for your family this year?

Now onto the pumpkin fingers. These are traditionally served with Ayres’ chicken salad, but I think they’d be just fine with about anything you paired them with! The loaves are baked for quite a while, set aside to cool, and then spread with whipped cream cheese. A Kitchenaid mixer will be handy to whip up the filling, but the truly motivated could manage it by hand.

Historical Recipe 

12 oz sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cup bread flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
handful of pecans
handful of raisins
12 oz pumpkin (not mix)
1 8 oz package cream cheese

Blend together sugar, salt, baking soda, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Mix oil and eggs; add pecans, raisins and pumpkin. Grease 2 4-ounce loaf pans; place dough equally in pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 70-90 minutes. Cool on racks for 30 minutes. Whip cream cheese until spreadable. Split loaves lengthwise; fill with cream cheese and cut into finger-size servings.

Source: Ayres’ Tea Room Recipes and Recollections, by way of Just A Pinch

 Modern tips: 
In a pinch, pumpkin pie spice will do just fine for this dense bread — and you might even be able to use some of those pie pumpkins lingering around from Thanksgiving, too. You can omit or add mix-ins as you’d like. Not a fan or raisins or pecans? Substitute hazelnuts or almonds. I’d add a bit of powdered sugar to the whipped cream cheese to sweeten it up. Dust the top with powdered sugar, too!
Make sure you allot enough time for these treats — they stay in the oven alone for around 80 minutes, and then have to cool before icing. Store in the fridge before taking to your holiday gathering (or snacking on them at home).
May your holidays be merry and bright! Here’s a mixtape of local Christmas songs to get your baking started.
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About the Author

Katherine Coplen is a writer and editor working in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the Music Editor for NUVO Newsweekly, where she writes about music 1) made in Indianapolis, 2) released on Indianapolis labels, and 3) touring through Indianapolis. Outside of NUVO, Katherine has been published frequently in The Billfold, HerCampus, The Herald Times, The Ryder, The Southside Times, and Livebuzz. She really, really loves food.

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