Don’t let Pumpkin have all the fun – Butternut Squash Spice Cake

It’s that special time of year when everything turns pumpkin.  Pumpkin spice coffee, cake muffins, cookies, pumpkin beer, pumpkin creamer, pumpkin pumpkin PUMPKIN.  Don’t get me wrong – I love pumpkin.  I love this time of year where everything is warmly spiced and pairs nicely with a warm cider.  It’s the time of year when we here in Central Texas might actually get to turn our air conditioners off and maybe possibly wear jeans all day without sweating.  It hasn’t happened yet, the current forecast is still containing the words “heat index,” but I have faith that autumn will soon be here.  I decided to do my darndest to lure it in with some delicious butternut squash spice muffins.

Here’s a concept that seems to have drifted past many:  pumpkin is not the only squash available at this time of year!  Fall is squash time.  And many of these squashes can be substituted for pumpkin with no difference in flavor or texture.  In fact, often times the cans of pumpkin you purchase at the grocery actually aren’t 100% pumpkin, they are a mixture of other winter squashes.  The beauty of butternut squash is that it’s easier to cook than pumpkin, cooks faster, and tastes pretty much exactly the same.  When it appeared in the box, I decided it was time to make some cake.

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This recipe was originally a pumpkin cake, and you can definitely substitute pumpkin in for the squash.  I’ll share a secret with you:  this is the #1 most versatile recipe in my repertoire.  Bake it in a loaf, you have bread.  Toss in a handful of chocolate chips, you have chocolate-spice bread.  Bake it muffin tins, you’ve got muffins.  Top those muffins with a cream cheese frosting and you’ve got a cupcake.  Bake it in layers and frost them with cream cheese frosting, you’ve got a layer cake that will beat any white cake with buttercream.  It can be anything, it can be everything.

Butternut Squash Spice Cake

Yield two 9″ cake layers or about 30 muffins/cupcakes

1 large butternut squash (or 1 15 oz can pumpkin)

1 c vegetable oil

2/3 c water

3 c sugar

4 eggs

3 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 t baking soda

1 1/2 t salt

1 T cinnamon

1 T nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash cut side down in a baking pan or rimmed baking sheet.  Place the pan in the oven and pour about 1/4 inch of water into the bottom of the pan.  Roast the squash for 30-45 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the skin.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Scrape the squash out of the skin and puree in a food processor until it is very smooth.  Set aside until ready to proceed with the cake.  This step can be done a couple days in advance, or omitted if using canned pumpkin.

To prepare the batter:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 pound of pureed butternut squash (or 1 can of pumpkin puree) with vegetable oil, water, and sugar.  Mix to combine, then add the eggs one at a time, combining after each addition.  Sift in all of the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix until just combined.  Scoop into your chosen greased pan or muffin tins and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  For muffins, this will take about 17 minutes, for cake layers, about 20-30 minutes.  If baking in a loaf pan, allow between 45-60 minutes for baking.

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