Butternut squash–apple cake with ginger streusel

Butternut squash–apple cake with ginger streusel

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

Butternut squash–apple cake with ginger streusel

makes 1 cake or 8 servings
active time: 30 min

For the streusel

  1. 2 oz (55 g) Australian crystallized ginger cubes (1/3 cup)
  2. 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  3. 1/2 cup pine nuts

For the cake

  1. 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. 2/3 cup turbinado sugar
  3. 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  5. 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  6. 3 extra large organic eggs
  7. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (use a microplane grater)
  9. 1 cup butternut squash purée
  10. 1 medium McIntosh apple – peeled, cored and cut in 1/4″ pieces
  11. 1 cup organic golden raisins
  1. 9″ non-stick round cake pan – buttered

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180ºC).
  2. 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.
  3. Step 2: In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir well and set aside.
  4. Step 3: In a medium bowl whisk the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest and butternut-squash purée until well blended.
  5. 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.

Butternut squash–apple cake with ginger streusel

dessert, cake, butternut squash


  1. This was fabulous! Wouldn’t change a thing! I now have two more cups of puree in the freezer for another round!

  2. Hi Viviane, Just wanted to say I’m so stoked on finding this recipe. Lately I’ve been attempting to cut down on my sugar intake but as an avid baker I found that to be more difficult than first thought, what with all the cookies, cakes, and chocolate fudges I was so used to making. But this recipe is absolutely perfect, sweet enough to kill any sugar craving and without being too overbearing. Thank you.

    • Hi Trinity, Thank you so much for your note… Let me know how your cake turns out! I must say, it’s a humble little cake, but quite delicious. All the fruit in there give it a lot of natural sweetness and make it so moist to boot. Have fun baking!

  3. This cake was absolutely fantastic! I used dried cranberries instead of raisins. I think the addition of sunflower oil turns this great cake to a into “out of this world” cake… Viviane is turning me into a baker! Thank you!
    Here are my pictures if you’d like to take a peek.

    • It’s my great pleasure, Masha! I just put a comment on your Facebook page… The cake looks fabulous! Love the cranberries in there. Keep baking… I think you have a gift for it!

  4. Viviane, you are going to laugh. My friend made this cake for dessert last night while having dinner at her place and she sent me the link to the recipe this morning. It was delicious and so moist.

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  8. Hello Viviane,
    I have only recently come across your site. I love the uncluttered layout and easy access to all your recipes. I am inspired by your recipes and have made and enjoyed several of them already. Today I made this Butternut Squash–Apple Cake and found it to be delicious without being too sweet. Thank you so much for your generosity of time and effort in sharing your lovely creations.
    Josefa in Tasmania.

    • Dear Josefa! Thank you so much for your kind words and wonderful comment – it made my day! On a side note, I was born not to far away from you, in New Caledonia… so you sent a little breeze of the South Pacific my way today too. A warm thank you… and happy cooking!

  9. It’s so pretty and looks tasty!

  10. Hi Viviane. I am wondering if I am missing something in your recipe. I put it in the oven today at 4.30 and now its 7.15 and its literally just out. I am leaving it to cool and it looks lovely but I dont know why its taken so long? After 45 mins it was pure batter inside and the same after an hour. Since then I’ve been checking it after either 5 or ten mins depending on how it appeared to be doing but its only done now. It rose beautifully. Thanks for your help and your recipe. Teresa – Wexford Ireland

    • Hi Teresa, Most likely your oven bakes at a lower temperature than what the dial says. I suggest you buy an oven thermometer to help you figure out the proper temperature. I have one of these in my oven to make sure I get the accurate temperature for all the recipes I write. I hope the cake is okay though!!! Let me know how it turned out. Warmest, Viviane

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  15. Beth-Near Chicago

    I just recently experienced a Butternut Cake!!! for a dinner side in South Africa -and I want to make my own. Your recipe sounds even more delicious than the cake I tried. Can’t wait to make it! Maybe even today!!! sans the streusel topping.

    Beth-Near Chicago

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