Butternut Squash Gingerbread
The thin wedges of squash that top this cake bake in a brown sugar and butter glaze until they’re candied and almost translucent.
Butternut squash has a thin skin which is easy to peel with a vegetable peeler. or you could substitute peeled slices of sugar pumpkin, red kuri squash, or ripe pears for the butternut squash. if you use pears, you won’t need to roast them first.
- for the squash Topping:
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus a little more
- for buttering the pans
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- for the cake Batter
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup hot strong coffee
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter,
- melted and slightly cooled
- Whipped cream, sweetened to taste with sugar
1. Butter a 10 by 2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with
a circle of parchment paper. preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. To prepare the squash topping, cut the peel from the squash, then cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds and fibers with a spoon. slice the squash into wedges about 1/3-inch thick, and place them on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake until
tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 20 to 25 minutes, turning the squash pieces over with a spatula halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
3. in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the brown sugar, stirring until smooth. pour the butter-sugar mixture evenly into the cake pan.
4. arrange the squash wedges in a decorative pattern (like the spokes of a wheel) over the bottom of the pan, trimming them to fit if necessary. you may have a few squash slices left over. using your fingers, press down on the squash slices gently, so you’ll be able to see them through the sugar topping when the cake is unmolded. sprinkle the pecans over the squash. set the prepared cake pan aside.
1. To make the cake batter, mix together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. in another bowl, whisk together the coffee, molasses, and ginger.
2. in a large bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar, then whisk in the butter.
3. To the egg-butter mixture, add the dry ingredients in 2 batches, alternating with the coffee mixture, and beating with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until smooth. pour the batter into the prepared pan.
4. place the cake pan on a baking sheet lined with foil because the brown sugar mixture may bubble over as the cake bakes. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. if the cake is browning too quickly before it is done, cover it loosely with a piece of foil.
5. Remove the cake pan from the oven and allow it to cool on a rack for about 5 minutes. To unmold, run a thin knife around the cake to loosen it. cover the cake pan with an inverted plate, then invert the whole thing. Remove the pan and the cake should slide right out onto the plate. peel off the circle of parchment paper and replace any squash or pecans clinging to the paper. cool the cake to room temperature before slicing.
6. To serve, slice the cake into wedges and serve with dollops of whipped cream.
Note: you can bake and unmold the cake early in the day and leave it at room temperature. leftovers, if there are any, stay moist for a day or two, wrapped in plastic wrap.