Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.


Bundt Cake Saturday! (on Wednesday)

Morning: crisp
Mood: squashed
Music: Bright Eyes

Aaaand here we are for another [delayed onset] addition to the Bundt Cake Saturday canon. It's a cool morning here, bright, clear, crisp; hardly feels like Thanksgiving's around the corner, other than the telling lines at the grocery this morning. I'm happy to avoid the traveling masses and be quietly ensconced at home, where Chocolate Peppermint baby bundts bake in the oven and my newest vinyasa sequence downloads for a quick practice while they cool.

But we'll save that holiday recipe for another time. Here's a new fall cake that I discovered a few weeks back; after making two solid gingery variations, I've decided it's one for the Top 10 list. This one's a great way to bake with the seasons while venturing outside the usual apple/pumpkin/spice suspects found in autumn.

When my sisters and I were in elementary school 4-H pursuing the illustrious South Dakota State Fair Purple Ribbon (don't tease), we used to bake with zucchini fairly often, usually because my father's huge garden plot in the backyard produced obscene amounts of the green squash and we could never find enough ways to use it all up. It never failed to surprise me that such an ostensibly savory creature could produce such moist, sweet variations of breads and cakes. That in mind, I've been looking for a good squash recipe in the last few months, even though my zucchini won't come from the backyard this time around. I finally found it in this

BUTTERMILK SQUASH CAKE WITH SPICED VANILLA ICING

Insane, no? It is seriously as good as it sounds. If you've procrastinated on finding a recipe to take to your annual Thanksgiving gathering tomorrow, this just might be your guy.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 Tbs. distilled white vinegar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk
2-1/4 cups peeled and grated butternut squash

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour your bundt pan. In a large bowl, 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.

Grate the squash and fold it lightly into the batter. Pour into prepared pan and 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 to cool completely.

Ok, just a few things on this: the instructions above are taken from the original, which admonishes you to oh-so-carefully stir the ingredients together. Let's be real. I just dumped that shit in and beat it with an electric mixer until it was well-stirred. Feel free to do all that fancy mixing and folding and whatnot, but your cake will still rise if you don't. Just sayin'.

Also, in terms of your vegetables: the first time I made this, I used three kinds of squash, just to mix things up. The blend of zucchini, banana squash and yellow squash made for a colorful and interesting, texturally-varied cake. I definitely recommend giving that a whirl. The second time around, I picked up an organic butternut squash from Whole Foods and grated that in, raw. It turned out a cake with a particularly butternutty flavor, and was more monochromatic in color. So go with whatever you've got, and trust that it will be fine.

(And on that note: if you're short of time and don't mind keeping a dirty secret, switch out the flour/sugar/soda/etc. for a yellow cake mix. I won't judge. And they'll never know.)

Now, on to the icing and garnish. You'll need:

2-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbs. buttermilk; more as needed
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

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.

I left out the table salt in my icing and it turned out just fine. Don't worry so much about the exact proportions; just add your buttermilk and sugar until the icing is your preferred consistency. Maybe add a little powdered ginger, too, if you're especially fond. It's intuitive, baby. You know.

The magic ingredient here really is the chopped crystallized ginger. I can't tell you how many people remarked on how much they loved that finishing touch. Sprinkle the ginger on top, before the icing cools. Let it set for a few minutes before serving or transporting the cake.

The second time I made this recipe, I chopped up some organic unsulfured dried cranberries and sprinkled them on top with the crystallized ginger. The vibrant red berries made for a pretty autumnal addition. Get on with your fall color palette already.

And that's it. Enjoy. And know that you're getting your daily veg serving along with plenty of ginger (digestif!) in this recipe, as well.

Recipe courtesy finecooking.com

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