So here's how it works: Every week(-ish, or may be every two weeks) one of us is going to bake a cake. We get to choose our own recipe, -- either taking the opportunity to share a favorite or experiment with a new one -- take pictures of the baking adventure, post the recipe on this blog, and then bring in the cake to share.

As the five of us would like to avoid gaining a gazillion pounds during the process, we are inviting you, our fellow CCE'ers to come wallow in frosting along side us. In order to partake in all the cakey goodness, we'd like to request that your bring own fork and plate, and that you provide us with your comments and feedback here on our blog.

And, with that being said, LET THEM EAT CAKE!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Butternut Spice Cake

The first cake for our little culinary collaboration comes just as fall is at its peak here in the Central Valley. Leaves are turning beautiful shades of reds, golds, and brown and fall produce is abundant. Nights are finally cool enough to enjoy a fire and warm cup; sweaters have emerged from the back of the closet.

Speaking of fall produce, a renewed focus on veggies in the diet has sent me looking for affordable, high quality, local, and hopefully organic produce. This area is surrounded by farming on all sides so surely I would be able to find this, right? Right!

Community Supported Agriculture – an arrangement whereby you – the consumer – buy a portion of the produce of a local farm on a regular basis. Supporting local, family farms, enjoying fresh, local, seasonal produce . . . not just a good thing – a great thing! Full Belly Farm delivered a beautiful Butternut Squash last week. And I found baking inspiration.

Butternut squash is a fantastic fall veggie – nutrient rich and delicious. Almost indistinguishable from pumpkin when pureed but much easier to deal with.

Butternut Spice Layer Cake

¾ cup butter, softened

1 Tbls cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

¼ - ½ tsp nutmeg

¼ - ½ tsp cardamom

¼ -1/2 tsp allspice

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

2 eggs + 2 yolks

1 cup sugar

½ cup real maple syrup

2 cups butternut squash*

1 Tbls fresh grated ginger

2 Tbls milk

1 Tbls dark rum

Combine dry spices. Melt and lightly brown ¼ cup of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add spices and cook for about 15 seconds. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line with parchment two round cake pans.

In a medium bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a large bowl cream together softened butter (½ cup) and sugar. Add eggs and yolks one at a time, beating between each. Slowly add butter-spice mixture.

Combine squash, ginger, maple syrup, milk, and rum. Add to butter mixture alternately with flour beating at low speed scraping the bowl as needed. Mix until combined, do not overbeat.

Divide evenly between pans, smoothing out the tops. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes until a skewer inserted near the middle comes out almost clean. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges to loosen then invert on to a plate then back onto a rack to cool completely.

When cake has cooled carefully cut each layer in half horizontally to make 4 even layers. If tops are rounded trim to make each layer flat. Frost with Maple Cream Cheese frosting.

*To prepare squash:

Cut squash in half vertically, scoop out seeds and membranes. Place cut side down on a non-stick or lightly oiled baking tray. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 45 minutes. Remove and let cool. Peel on skin and process squash through a food mill. A food processer could be used but be careful not to overdo it. You want pureed/smashed squash, not whipped or liquefied squash.

This method is the same for making fresh pumpkin puree. If using pumpkin be sure to choose a Sugar pumpkin or baking pumpkin. Your average jack-o-lantern won’t taste very good.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz Cream Cheese

2 Tbls real maple syrup

4 Tbls butter

1 Tble dark rum

2 cups powdered sugar

Bring cheese and butter to come almost to room temperature. Beat in syrup, rum, and sugar. Adjust sugar and/or liquid to get to a spreadable (very soft peak) consistency. Be careful not to over beat as the cream cheese will get very soft.

This is definitely not a one bowl cake. So the question is, was it worth it? Let me know what you think. If you're in CCE come by and try a piece today. The rest of you will have to try the recipe at home. Happy baking . . . and eating!



  1. Um... delicious! I am definitely a fan! This cake is dense and full of flavor. It's like a pumpkin pie crossed with a spice cake, with cream cheese frosting to finish it off! (And who doesn't like cream cheese frosting?!). Great job, Jennifer! Way to start us off on a good foot!

  2. Well ... the gauntlet has definitely been thrown down. Jennifer, this is going to be a very hard act to follow!!!! I love how moist and flavorful the cake was and the maple cream cheese frosting is the best. I can't wait to share this recipe at Thanksgiving with my family -- don't worry, you'll get all the credit. Thanks so very much for sharing!

  3. One word... yummy! I love the spices in it. Perfect for this time of year. Great, now I wish I was at home curled up on the couch with a blanket watching the leaves blow. Oh wait I have twins I won't be able to do that for another 17 years. Good job Jennifer, it was delicious! I can't wait for the coming weeks and the different cakes. Great idea guys!

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  5. I've posted corrections to the recipe - Thanks for the catch Michelle! (2 eggs + 2 yolks and more precise butter measurements). If anyone tries the recipe please let me know how it goes :)