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December 6, 2009

"Butternut Miss It" Cake with Buttermilk Icing

How in the world do I find the words to convey how much I absolutely love this cake? There doesn't seem to be enough adjectives to quite describe how lovely it really is! I love this cake so much; I made it FIVE times in one week! And this is coming from someone who really does not like making the same thing more than once. You really butternut miss it!
I had my eye on this recipe for several months but kept forgetting about it. This all changed about a week ago when I accepted an invitation to dinner at my friend's house. Not wanting to arrive empty handed, I stopped by the store the night before to pick up the ingredients for my Cream Sherry Cake (one of my favorite "go-to" recipes). However when I went to my trunk to grab my reusable grocery bag, I saw the February/March 2009 issue of Fine Cooking Magazine just sitting there. It was then that I remembered why it was in the car: this cake! I quickly turned to the recipe and was relieved to see that I had almost all the ingredients in my pantry. I just needed to pick up a small butternut squash, a pint of buttermilk, and some crystallized ginger.

One of my favorite things about this cake was the batter. It starts out very thick, but once the butternut squash starts to soften and cook down, the cake almost blooms in the oven, rising high in the pan. And if you’re thinking that no one will like it because it has butternut squash in it, have no fear! Because the squash is grated prior to adding to the batter, its favor isn’t overwhelming, in fact it becomes mellow and sweet. My son who wouldn’t normally be caught in the same room with a butternut squash, couldn’t get enough of this cake! So much so he insisted on having it for breakfast! A few tips about making this recipe:

Be sure to use only fresh butternut squash. Frozen squash will not work! Look for one that's very firm and the flesh is free of blemishes. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin and be sure to peel down far enough to get to the bright orange flesh. Use the big, wide holes on a food processor or a cheese grater to shred the butternut squash.

If you can find it, I strongly encourage you to use freshly grated nutmeg. If you are fortunate enough to have a bulk section in your local grocery store, look to see if they carry the whole seed. If you can buy just one seed, you can probably get it for less than .40 cents! It tastes a million times better than the already-ground stuff. Don’t despair if you can’t find it; I promise the cake will still taste good using the ground stuff.

If you can swing it, make the cake at least a day or two before you need it. Its flavor actually improves with age. Keep it cold until you need it but let it come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.

This cake is great served all by itself, but holy cow is it good served warm or with a little scoop of butter pecan ice cream. Thanks to my good friend Adele for the suggestion! Pure genius!
"Butternut Miss It" Cake
adapted from FineCooking.com
Yield: about 12 to 15 slices, depending on how big you cut it.

3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (note that there is no baking powder in this recipe)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon *freshly* grated nutmeg (use ground nutmeg if you can't find fresh)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup buttermilk (low fat)
2-1/4 cups peeled and grated butternut squash (about 8 ounces)

1 cup confectioners sugar
2-4 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Make the cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325F. Butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan; tap out excess flour or just use Pam for baking (my personal favorite).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter alone for 1 minute until it's soft. Add the sugar and mix on medium speed until well combined for 1 minute. Scape the bowl and the beater. Add the oil and beat another minute.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each one, on low speed. Add the vinegar and vanilla and mix again until just combined (30 seconds). Add half of the flour mixture on low speed, just combined. Add half of the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Mix again for 15 seconds on medium speed until it's well combined. Scrape down the bowl and the beaters.

Stir the squash into the batter in two parts and mix on low speed. Give it a good mixing on medium-high speed for 5 seconds. Transfer the thick batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Place the pan on top of a cookie sheet and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto the rack and remove the pan. When the cake is completely cool, transfer it to a serving plate. Do not cover the cake until it's completely cool.

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. You may have some left over, so don't feel pressure to use all the icing.

Scatter the ginger on top. Let the icing set at room temperature, about 45 minutes, before serving (it gives it time to really soak into the cake).


  1. Wow, this looks really delicious! I adore butternut squash, so I think I would really love this cake. Will have to try it! :)

  2. I've been wanting to bake with butternut squash for the longest time. This cake looks perfect!

    Katie xox

  3. LOVE your blog!! Hubbie thinks he needs to take baked goodies to work all the time! Help!! I think your blog is just what I needed. Can't wait to try this one. The "office" loves to try new things.

  4. wooooooow this looks soooo DELICIOUS ..
    and am sooo happy cuz i juz bought butternut ystr for my sister .. she was gonna make a soup using it .. but aah NOT ANYMORE hhhhhh

    wooow am so excited to try it .. hope it'll look like urs .. and am sure it'll taste great .. i still can't forget the taste of ur october spice cake yet .. SO YYYYyYYYYYyummmM M MM mmy ...
    ur my fav dessert guru hhhhhh keep it up ;]


  5. We didn’t and OMG is it GOOD!!!!!
    It’s deadly – and good – and so good for us since I think it counts as at least one vegetable serving…

  6. FIVE times in one week? That is saying something...especially with all of the desserts in your repertoire! :)

  7. Just tried this out earlier this week and it was so good I had to seek out your blog. You're a dessert angel!

  8. This cake is in the holiday issue of fine cooking- Sweet cakes. I've been eyeing it for a fwe weeks now. It looks so good!

  9. So what you're saying is that it was really good and you would make it again,right? LOL!

  10. LOVE this idea!! The cake looks beautiful, great photos! :)

  11. omg ..
    i was making this cake like 5 minutes ago ..
    and i felt there was smthn wrong .. cuz when i was mixing the ingredients .. i was thinking "GEE why there is no baking powder n the recipe" i know that all cakes have to have PB! so i checked here again to see if i wrote them down missing or smthn .. and i realized that u wrote baking soda n the ingredient instead of Powder :( ..
    it was too late for me when i found out but i added 1 tsb baking powder with the tsb of soda .. and ill see how it'll turn out ..
    just wanted to let u know so no one fall n the same mistake lol ..

  12. Don't fret Hudo! Your cake should be okay, if anything it will just be really fluffy instead of the tighter pound cake texture that it usually produces. Be sure to keep an eye on it after 30-40 minutes and keep testing it with a tooth pick. Don't take it out until the cake no longer leaves crumbs on the toothpick.

    I know that might seem strange but the leavening agent is the combination of the bake soda and vinegar. This is pretty typical of old fashioned cakes where cream of tarter wasn't readily available.

    Please let me know how it turns out and thank you for your comment. I'll update the post too.

  13. julia ..
    just W O W !
    hhhhhhh really it's amazzzzing .. mom luvd it .. i made it n the morning n left it n the fridge .. and when i woke up i asked her why didn't u try it! she said i didn't wanna ruin it !! hhhhhhh but l8r she did n couldn't get enf from one piece hhhhh we're defiantly gonna eat it all day =$

    thank you .. it turned out great .. am so happy about it ..
    after all, my freakn' out about the baking soda wasn't that necessary hhhhhh

    am sure my family tonight will ask about the recipe for it hhh ill b famous thx to u hhhhhhhh

    thax from the heart <3

  14. Sounds heavenly and looks gorgeous!

  15. This looks very delicious!! Great work :D

  16. That looks delicious! I wonder if I could use it to convince my boyfriend that butternut really IS wonderful. (Squash is a running debate in our house.)

  17. This is great. I would've never thought to use butternut squash

  18. Mmmmm...this looks super yummy! I love recipes that incorporate something healthy into something sinful. Can't wait to give this a try!

  19. Made two cakes last nite. I was expecting them to be denser, but they faired on the lighter side. This might be b/c I used cream instead of buttermilk, which I never have in my stock. Yes, i know that you can made it from regular milk & vinegar, but I don't like tangy taste that buttermilk brings to the party. Anyways, you might re-read through your recipe. You mention baking soda over baking powder in the ingredient list, but you list "baking powder" in the dry ingredients. Also, you never mention where to add the ground ginger. So, my first cake didn't have ground ginger b/c I read the ingredients order from the body of the recipe. Overall, nice texture and light taste. Both cakes were a crowd pleaser.

  20. Thanks for pointing those changes out Spurlock! I appreciate you letting me know. I've fixed the recipe.

  21. This sounds divine! Love the use of butternut squash.

  22. I had this recipe bookmarked for a long time, and I finally made it two days ago. I accidentally left the cake on the counter to cool, and my dog jumped up and ate it while I was gone! I was so sad that I made it again today, and it was definitely worth it. So delicious and moist! Thanks for the great recipe!

  23. i'm new to your blog, and to baking! its like rediscovering that chemistry set i got for xmas when i was 10 and then had it taken away when my cousin and i poured a bunch of stuff in the bathroom sink to watch it smoke and bubble only to discover we had turned the white sink purple! hopefully this cake will yield better results. i found you while looking for a lemon pound cake recipe (i think yours is beyond my skill set, but its how i found your blog and this butternut cake.) i couldn't imagine what this would be like, so it got me curious. (so far making it has been quite the adventure! like when i got distracted and accidentally turned on the kitchenaid while i had the mixer raised out of the bowl. i'll be finding globs of batter for the next 4 months!) (are you getting what i mean when i say "skill set"?) its in the oven right now and smells good! i guess this is a variation on a carrot cake? i've never made a carrot cake, but the aroma coming from my oven smells similar to me! (maybe this recipe would benefit from some toasted walnuts? aren't there walnuts in a carrot cake? do i sound like i know what i'm doing? ha! let's just hope i don't turn my oven purple...
    next i'm going to try and make that 3 layer cheese cake. thanks for such an interesting blog! i'll let you know how it turns out. - ric


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