Sunday, March 6, 2016

Butternut Squash Cake

Butternut Squash Cake, chilling in the fridge.
The recipe for this rich, moist, spicy and delicious Butternut Squash Cake came from my friend Tom who found it in the November 2015 issue of Sunset Magazine, where it was touted as an alternative to carrot cake.

The spice in the cake comes ground cardamom, allspice, cinnamon and ground and crystallized ginger. And, for even more flavor, there are some generous splashes of bourbon in both the cake and frosting.

When I first read through the recipe, I was concerned that grating butternut squash would be kind of challenging. It wasn't. In fact, grating butternut squash turns out to be even easier than grating carrots. The flesh of the squash was actually softer than that of a carrot and you can cut off one big chunk of squash and grate enough for the recipe in no time.

I decided to increase the amount of squash in the recipe to three cups and I did make a few other changes as well, like reducing the sugar in the frosting by half. Three cups of powdered sugar in a single batch of frosting is way too much! I also substituted my favorite Penzy's dehydrated orange zest for fresh zest.

There's is one more thing I have to mention about this recipe — It calls for you to bake the three layers of cake in three separate 8-inch cake pans.

Well, that wasn't a problem for me,  but I realize that most people don't own more than two 8-inch cake pans.

The good news is that you really don't need three pans to make this cake. Two pans will hold the batter just fine. Just be sure to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes. Keep a careful eye on the cakes as they are baking, and pull them out when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Here's the recipe:

Butternut Squash Cake
2 cups cake flour (I make my own. Click here for the recipe)
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Penzy's dehydrated orange zest (If you can't find this, substitute 2 tablespoons of fresh.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
3 cups grated butternut squash

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and line with parchment three round (8-inch cake)  pans.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and allspice and set aside.

In a small bowl mix the dehydrated orange zest with the vanilla and orange juice. Set aside for 10 minutes for the zest to absorb the vanilla and juice and soften.

In another large bowl, use a whisk to beat by hand the oil, eggs, brown sugar, yogurt, bourbon and lemon juice. Add the orange/vanilla mixture.

Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Finally stir in the crystallized ginger and squash.
Adding the squash.

Divide the mixture between the three pans and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Invert the cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting. 

Spicy Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 unsalted butter, softened
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup unsweetened shaved coconut, toasted

In a stand mixer whip together the butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and light. Add the bourbon, cardamom, sea salt, cinnamon and ginger and whip again until everything is thoroughly combined.
The frosting.

Toast the coconut on a sheetpan in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown. Be sure to keep a carefully eye on it and pull it out of the oven when the edges of the coconut shavings are golden brown.  Leave the coconut on the pan to cool completely.

To frost the cake:
Set a cake layer rounded side down on a platter, spread the top of it with about 3/4 cup of frosting.

Add the second layer and top with another 3/4 cup of frosting.

Add the final cake layer and spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Press the cooled toasted coconut into the sides of the cake, a small handful at a time.
Adding the toasted coconut.

Keep the cake chilled until you are ready to serve. 

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