$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.
$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.

Winning butternut squash cake

Kate Lawson is on medical leave and will return after the holidays. Meanwhile, please enjoy one of her favorite recipes from over the years:

I am always thrilled when someone asks me to bake a cake. I especially like it because that means I can give it to them and not have it sitting around waiting to jump on my hips. A few weeks ago, a colleague asked me to make a cake for a fundraiser.

So I started thinking seasonally about what cake I would make. I considered an apple cake or pumpkin cake for the event, but when I saw this recipe for Buttermilk Cake with Spiced Vanilla Icing made with grated butternut squash in an old issue of Fine Cooking, I knew had I picked a winner.

It was all I could do to not slice into it once the icing was drizzled on, but I held fast. I’m told the cake went for a pretty penny at the fundraiser. Maybe I’m in the wrong business.

Buttermilk Cake with Spiced Vanilla Icing

Recipe from Fine Cooking, Feb./March 2009

The secret to this moist, tender cake is grated butternut squash, which is folded into the batter just before baking. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the squash.

For the cake

4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan

13 1/2 ounces (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 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 1/4 cups peeled and grated butternut squash (about 8 ounces)

For the icing and garnish

9 ounces (2 1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons buttermilk; more as needed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees. 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. Serves 10 to 12.

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.

Make ahead: 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.

Per serving: 479 calories; 18 g fat (6 g saturated fat; 34 percent calories from fat); 75 g carbohydrates; 46 g sugar; 57 mg cholesterol; 381 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 1 g fiber.