Vegetables are so versatile. They can be enjoyed raw, roasted, steamed, fried, sautéed, boiled, and surely a few ways I’ve neglected to mention. One of my favorite things about vegetables is that they can be enjoyed as a savory side dish, an entrée or in a sweet baked good. The butternut squash in this cake adds moisture and texture, and a very subtle flavor of squash that is a nice complement to the tart buttermilk and sweet vanilla and spices.
I used a traditional bundt pan, which I greased and sugared. This is my new favorite way to prep a pan for baked goods. I used this method on a pan of blondies yesterday that came out beautifully. The two batches I tried before stuck like crazy, but this sugaring thing seems to be pretty foolproof.
The batter was smooth and smelled wonderful even before it was baked. I used 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice in the batter because I was out of ginger. I think it worked well and still provided the fall spice flavor.
This is an easy recipe that can be prepared ahead of time since it needs to cool before applying the glaze.
I liked the glaze, but there are a few things I would change. I would use plain milk instead of buttermilk and also add some cinnamon with the nutmeg. I did not use the crystallized ginger called for in the recipe. I could have sworn I had some in the pantry, but it was nowhere to be found. If I’d had it, I would have used it. I love crystallized ginger, and in this cake it would have added flavor and made it look prettier.
I think this would be a great dessert to serve instead of pie at Thanksgiving. Wait, why would anyone want something other than glorious pie? So never mind the Thanksgiving idea…unless you don’t like pie, in which case you’re crazy. But you should make this cake. It’s easy, delicious, and has squash in it, so it must be good for you.
Buttermilk Butternut Squash Spice Cake
Courtesy of Fine Cooking, December 2008
For the cake:
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
- 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbs. distilled white vinegar
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. table salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2-1/4 cups peeled and grated butternut squash (about 8 oz.)
For the icing and garnish:
- 9 oz. (2-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 Tbs. buttermilk; more as needed
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. table salt
- 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
Make the cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan; tap out excess flour.
In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the oil and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well on low speed. Add the vinegar and vanilla and mix again until just combined. Add half of the flour and the baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg, mixing on low speed until just combined. Add half of the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk.
Stir the squash into the batter and transfer the batter to the prepared pan; smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes; then carefully invert the cake onto the rack and remove the pan. When the cake is completely cool, transfer it to a serving plate.
Make the icing
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt until smooth. Add more buttermilk, a few drops at a time, as needed, until the icing is pourable but still quite thick. Pour the icing back and forth in thick ribbons over the cooled cake. Sprinkle the ginger on top. Let the icing set at room
temperature, about 45 minutes, before serving.
This cake can be made a day or two in advance. After the icing has set, wrap the cake in plastic and refrigerate. Let come to room temperature before serving.