Ever since I was a little girl, I loved baking cakes. In fact, my very first cooking memory was of baking my very own birthday cake — for my sixth birthday! (Of course my grandmother helped a bit…) Nowadays, I do not bake as often as I would like. The business of my life and my orientation towards lighter foods have sometimes interfered with this deep and fundamental pleasure of baking.
With this recipe I decided to reconnect with the pure satisfaction of baking a beautiful old-fashioned cake — but with a modern twist. So I created a butternut squash and apple teacake with a surprising but delicious candied-ginger and pine-nut streusel.
Made without butter or too much sugar, this cake is light and moist without being rich. I always use organic, free-range eggs because I find them more delicious and also healthier than their conventional counterparts. In summertime, I buy my eggs at the Piermont Farmers’ Market, always marveling at the bright golden hue of their yokes. In the winter months, I rely on our local health-food stores for a good organic brand.
Likewise, I use organic turbinado sugar for most of my desserts. This unrefined, pure cane sugar has a subtle molasses flavor and some nutritional benefits, as it retains all the natural minerals (phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron) and vitamins present in sugarcane juice. Finally, the Australian crystallized (or candied) ginger used in the streusel is truly mouthwatering. Harvested when its roots are young and tender, the ginger is fiber-free and mild in flavor, adding a tangy and modern twist to this scrumptious cake.
Not only was I delighted with my new teacake, I was able to indulge in it without guilt. Nice to know one doesn’t necessarily have to choose between the poetry of baking and the prose of nutrition. Doesn’t that make the pleasure of baking infinitely more satisfying…?
Butternut squash–apple cake with ginger streusel
makes 1 cake or 8 servings
active time: 30 min
For the streusel
- 2 oz (55 g) Australian crystallized ginger cubes (1/3 cup)
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
For the cake
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup turbinado sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil
- 3 extra large organic eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (use a microplane grater)
- 1 cup butternut squash purée
- 1 medium McIntosh apple – peeled, cored and cut in 1/4″ pieces
- 1 cup organic golden raisins
- 9″ non-stick round cake pan – buttered
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180ºC).
- Step 1: In the bowl of a food processor, place the ginger, sugar and pine nuts. Pulse several times until all ingredients are finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Step 2: In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir well and set aside.
- Step 3: In a medium bowl whisk the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest and butternut-squash purée until well blended.
- Step 4: Stir the apple pieces and raisins into the flour mixture until well blended. Add the squash mixture to the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, mix until just moistened. Spoon batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle with the streusel topping. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Serve at room temperature.