Perhaps the incentive of having a bumper crop of pattypan squash wobbling around in my kitchen has finally pushed me over the deep end but I’ve been thinking, why do zucchini and pumpkins have all the sweet confection glory? Mad scientist tendencies aside, squash in my opinion are a perfect way to smuggle in moisture and texture to baked goods with no one being the wiser. The fact that summer squash also have oodles of vitamins (A, B6, C), minerals (manganese) and fiber will totally negate any sugary, fatty guilt, right? Actually, most people can’t even tell that’s there’s squash in this cake. They come away from dessert with a spiced, eggy, sweetly rum-butter glazed impression. The fact that the moisture and glaze make this cake taste just as good on day 3 as it does on day 1 is just the icing on the…what was I saying?
Tips for the tipsy:
1) Because of the moisture from the squash, this cake takes longer to bake. I find that when baking something with a lot of moisture, 325F works better than 350F because at a higher temp the outside will be golden brown with a raw inside requiring me to cover the cake with foil to keep the outside from darkening further.
2) Is there a quick and dirty conversion for conventional vs convection baking times? Yup. Usually, unless you have a really short, less than 15 minute, cooking time you should reduce the baking time by 25-30% so a 60 minute baking time in a conventional oven would roughly become 45 minutes in a convection oven. I usually decrease my time by 25% and set a timer to check 5 minutes before the decreased time so for the above example I would bust out my cake tester at 40 minutes.
3) Avoid the temptation to overmix as this will expose more of the gluten from the flour allowing it to create a matrix thereby giving the cake a tough, rubbery texture so once you no longer have visible patches of flour you’re good to go. Fine Cooking has a simple and informative look at gluten and baking.
4) Silicone, the bees knees or just another way to dispose of your income? I am a card carrying member of the silicone baking cult. It’s pretty nonstick, everything just pops out painlessly with the caveat that not all silicone pans are created equal. Some companies use fillers so that the surfaces of the pan are silicone but the inside isn’t which means that while the silicone is nonstick the fillers aren’t. More importantly, most silicone bakeware is rated to over 400F (some up to 315C or 600F!) but that doesn’t extend to any fillers that may be inside the bakeware. Over time with baking micro-cracks can develop exposing the filler and making your silicone pan sticky. Since the fillers are not meant to withstand high baking temperatures there’s also the concern that they can leak into foods. These are all good reasons to go with 100% silicone pans. How to tell if a pan is 100% silicone? Pinch or twist an edge, if it turns white where you’re applying force then there are fillers present. A completely silicone pan will be completely uniform in color with pinching or twisting. The light appearing area in the pinch test on my bundt pan in photo below is actually light reflecting off the pan, not a white area, easier to tell in real life than via interwebs iPhone photo 🙂
5) A perk and pitfall of silicone is that it’s really flexible. That may be great for popping madeleines out of the pan but not so great when you’ve got a heavy liquidy bundt pan. I like to place my bundt pan on a baking sheet before filling it with batter for easy transport to the oven. Now that multiple companies are making silicone pans, it’s gotten really affordable too so if you bake often, consider switching over to the polymer side just bypass the fillers.
Spiced Squash Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 c sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
1 c vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 c summer squash ~ 2-3 small squash, skin on and coarsely grated (this is a great time to bust out the food processor :))
Preheat oven to 325F. If you do not have a silicone pan grease and flour a 12 c (16 inch diameter) bundt pan or 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and set aside. Using an electric mixer mix sugars and oil together on med-lo speed till well blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time, till just incorporated. Mix in vanilla. On low speed mix in 1/2 of dry ingredients. Alternate squash with dry ingredients till everything is just barely mixed in together, no pockets or flour means you’re good to go :). This will form a thick almost lumpy batter. Pour batter into pan and bake for 70-80 minutes (if using a bundt pan, if you’re using a 9 x 13 inch pan 25-30 minutes) till a cake tester comes out clean. With a convection fan and a silicone bundt pan this recipe usually takes me 55-60 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Gently free cake from the sides of the pan using a butter knife and then invert over a plate.
Rum Butter Glaze
1/2 c packed brown sugar
4 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp rum (optional)
While cake is baking add all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on med-hi heat till just boiling. Lower heat and simmer for ~ 10-5 minutes till glaze is thickened to a thin syrup. Brush over warm cake. You could also pour the glaze over the cake but I’m greedy and I like my glaze–brushing it on ensures that all that buttery, rummy sweetness stays where it should, soaking into my cake. Seriously though, it would also look pretty drizzled over a slice of cake as well. I would make a guess on servings but this always seems to disappear too quickly for me to guesstimate. Let’s say12-16 servings 😉