BUTTERNUT SQUASH CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 250 g self-raising flour
- 300 g finely grated butternut squash
- 200 g caster sugar
- 150 g light Muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 200 ml sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 40 g finely chopped walnuts for the sponge
- 40 g finely chopped walnuts for decorating
- 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 20 ml rum optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 180 g Philadelphia cream cheese
- 180 g icing sugar
HOW TO MAKE THE BUTTERNUT CAKE SPONGE
- Preheat the oven to 160°C and line the baking tin with parchment paper (I used a square 25 x 25 cm baking tin, you can also use two smaller round cake tins not more than 20cm in diameter and divide the cake mix between them).
- In a large bowl beat together eggs, sugar and oil until properly incorporated.
- Mix grated butternut squash, grated carrot, walnuts, rum and vanilla into the wet ingredients.
- In a separate bowl sift together flour, spices, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Make sure they are combined evenly.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet mix. Pour the mix to the lined tin and level the surface.
- Bake on 160°C for around 40 minutes. (Two round tins might be done sooner so keep checking). The sponge is baked once the testing skewer comes out clean.
- Remove the sponge from the tin and let the cake cool down completely.
HOW TO MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Sift icing sugar into the bowl. Sifting helps to break unwanted lumps in the sugar for the very smooth frosting.
- Add the butter and whisk until combined and smooth.
- Add cream cheese into the butter spoon at the time (If your butter and cream cheese don’t have the same temperature the mix will more likely curdle).
FINISHING THE CAKE
- If you baked the cake in a single tin, cut it in half to create two identically shaped sponges.
- Use a little bit less than half of the frosting and spread it onto one of the cake layers. Sandwich the other layer on top of it.
- Thinly cover the sides of the cake with the frosting and spread the rest evenly over the top.
- Optional: Decorate the sides of the cake with chopped walnuts.
- Let the cake chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
ABOUT THE RECIPE
I can’t tell you that this recipe has a long history in our family. The truth is that I put the recipe together as an alternative for a carrot cake that I was originally going to make for the MacMillan cake sale at my son's school.
As it happened, I forgot to buy carrots, the main ingredient for my cake and there was only one small one left in the fridge.
Fortunately, I’m the queen when it comes to improvising in the kitchen. I've managed to save the day (cake) by using half of the leftover fresh butternut squash we had left in the fridge. I slightly adjusted the ingredients in the recipe and got baking.
I don’t want to bother you with my butternut cake story so to cut the story short. The cake didn’t make it to the MacMillan cake sale. I made it in the last minute and the cake didn’t have time to chill in the fridge which meant that the frosting wasn’t set. It was very tricky to cut the individual portions and keep them looking nice.
It was unfortunate for the cake sale (I promise I’ll make up for it next time) but very fortunate for us. The cake tasted delicious. It has a perfect balance of spices that pair well with a soft moist sponge and smooth sweet cream cheese frosting.
It’s so good that I want to share the recipe with you. I’ll be delighted if you give it a go and let me know how you liked it.
butternut squash cake tips
Chill the cake before serving. It will be easier to cut it and serve neat portions.
Always store the leftover cake in the fridge otherwise you are risking that the cream cheese frosting will go bad.
If you know you won't eat the whole cake within a couple of days freeze the leftovers.
I like to pre-cut the cake into individual portions. This way the cake defrosts faster and you can take out of the freezer the exact number of slices instead of defrosting the whole block of cake. I lay the slices on a tray next to each other with a baking paper under each piece and let it freeze. It usually takes 1 hr in the top drawer (it's the coldest). Once the slices are frozen I transfer them into a sealable freezer bag with a baking paper in between each slice.
The cake should be in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag to stop it from absorbing unwanted smells.