I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, nor am I much of a baker per se, but I do rather like the idea of incorporating local seasonal vegetables into dessert. The basis for the cake batter–kabocha squash that I steamed and whipped into a puree and grated carrots–makes for an extremely moist, but light and airy cake, that’s not overly sweet. The topping, just a simple streusel of chopped pecans, a little flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar (some dried coconut flakes would be a nice addition), provides a nice little bit of crunch on top. Fresh pecans, a big bag of, courtesy of Patrick’s recent trip to Charleston, S.C. My type of gift (he also brought home a big bag of low-country Cajun boiled peanuts; yum!).
My original thought was to pair the cake with some homemade cinnamon pumpkin gelato, but have not got around to preparing this as of yet (still on my ever growing mental list of things to make); maybe a bit too ambitious. Probably a good thing, as I really don’t need to have cake and gelato hanging out in the kitchen, tempting me, calling my name. Instead, opted for a little scoop of salted caramel gelato from a local artisan, who makes some really tasty (and highly addictive) gelato. Or, just a little bit of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream topping would be a nice and simple addition. Or, enjoy on its own. Although, love when the gelato melts a bit and seeps into the top layer of the cake.
Kabocha Squash-Carrot Cake with Pecan Streusel
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Drizzle in the olive oil. Add the chopped pecans and mix to incorporate.
2 cups pureed kabocha squash (or pumpkin)
2 medium carrots, grated
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground clove)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9″x 9″ baking ban.
In a large bowl, mix the squash/pumpkin puree, carrots, milk, oil, sugar, and maple syrup. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Pour the flour-spice mixture into the squash/pumpkin mixture and fold with a spatula until just incorporated (do not overmix).
Pour the batter into the baking pan. Top with the pecan streusel and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the center is baked through. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Serve with a scoop of ice cream/gelato on top.