Thursday, September 13, 2012

Butternut Squash Pound Cake

I've decided that it's high time I accept that fall is upon us.  No more pretending that it might still be summer, no more tomato recipes (OK, so I might have just one more...), no more tropical frozen desserts, no more quick grilling dishes.  Time to pack it all up and call it good.  Or at least I feel like that's what I'm supposed to be doing right now.  Between the chilly mornings, early bedtimes, the Halloween and Thanksgiving pinning frenzy on Pinterest, and the fall fruit mingling with the tomatoes and basil in my CSA box, I feel fall being pressured upon me.  OK, OK, I get it.  I really do.  And I'm trying.

I'm just having a hard time easing into it, that's all.  It seems incongruous to me that just a few weeks ago I was making cakes with plums and peaches and now I have grapes and apples to work with instead.  How could it all be gone already?  So I guess the only way to really, truly accept the change in seasons is to dive headfirst into the deep end.  No testing the water first- no sticking my big toe in to see how cold it is.  Forget the apples.  I'm going big time- butternut squash.
The first true sign of fall for me was a little butternut squash tucked into my CSA box a couple of weeks ago.  I wasn't ready to deal with it then and the poor thing sat on my counter until just yesterday.  Even then, I hadn't really decided what to do with it, so I roasted and pureed it and set it aside.  The big question was, how could I get the three men in my life (and self-professed squash haters) to eat it?  And the only real solution was, in the words of Marie Antionette, let them eat cake!  As I'm writing this post, my little one is sitting at the table munching on his second slice this morning and singing "Cake, cake, cake, I love it so much!".  I think he likes it.  Just a little.

Butternut Squash Pound Cake
Adapted from Fine Cooking. Makes 1 bundt cake, two 9 x 4 inch loaves or 8 mini loaves.
For a printable recipe, click here.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup butternut squash puree (Roast a halved squash at 400 degrees for 45 min.  Cool, then puree in a blender or food processor.)
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg or 1/2 tsp pre-ground nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour your bundt or loaf pans and set aside.  I used a sheet of parchment as a sling in my loaf pans to make it easier to remove the cakes when cool.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and the sugar has dissolved.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Add the vanilla and butternut squash and beat well.  The batter will have appeared to have separated at this point.  Not to worry, it will all come back together.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and nutmeg.  Add half to the batter and mix well.  Add half the buttermilk to the batter and mix, then repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan (divide evenly if you are using loaf pans).  A bundt will need to bake for about an hour, the two large loaves for about 45 minutes.  If you are making small loaves, they will bake in 25-30 minutes.  The cake is done when the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.  To remove a bundt, place a platter upside down on top of the pan, then invert the cake and platter together.  Use the parchment slings to remove the loaves from the pans.

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