Squash into Cake

Well, it’s no longer stupid cold outside, but there’s a huge blizzard blowing in off the lake at the moment. I had thought perhaps I’d take a walk up to the fancy chocolate store and load up on post-Valentine’s sale chocolate, but the snow is blowing nearly horizontal at the moment and I have no desire to do so much as to take out the garbage. If it eases up later, or even if the wind calms down, I might change my mind.

Meanwhile, tragedy has struck in my kitchen: my stand mixer is injured. I don’t think it’s fatal, though getting it fixed will be an adventure, given that I don’t have a vehicle and the authorized repair places are in the suburbs. If I knew just a little bit more I’d poke around inside it myself, but that sounds like a bad idea. It will affect the bread baking, somewhat (though I have a few loaves in the freezer), but what it will affect more is anything that requires creaming butter and sugar together. I fiddled with the settings enough to make the latest in my efforts to assemble an awesome carrot cake, not least because I have a crazy amount of carrots from the farm share and also because Friend is a fan of carrot cake, but I don’t want to push my luck and completely destroy the mixer.

I’ve played with this recipe before. I prefer butter in carrot cakes, rather than oil, and I definitely prefer a lot less fat than most recipes require (a cup and a half of oil? really?). I’ve been using pumpkin to keep it moist, which also adds some fiber and vegetables, and lately I’ve used whole wheat flour rather than all-purpose. This weekend’s version might have been the best ever. I’ll give it to you after I make it again, because I’m not entirely sure of all of the measurements, but I can tell you that for 24 good-sized muffins I used only six tablespoons of butter and three eggs, and I could probably cut it down to four tablespoons of butter, especially if I add a little flax. Another thing I’ve been doing is shredding the carrots in the food processor and then cooking them a bit; this time I roasted the shredded carrots for awhile in the oven. It was still moist, but it wasn’t as wet as freshly shredded carrots, and I think it improves the overall flavor of the whole enterprise.

Of course, it all goes to hell in a handbasket once frosting goes on top (cream cheese, butter, a little boiled apple cider, some dried orange rind I had sitting around, confectioner’s sugar), but these are sufficiently good that you could eat them without the frosting and still be pretty happy. Okay, maybe most people regard all carrot cake as a vehicle for the frosting, but, at least theoretically, one could eat these without frosting.

The farm share has provided me with two three-pound bags of frozen, roasted butternut squash, which is what I used in the carrot cake. No, not all three pounds of it. I also used some in risotto: it was sufficiently watery that I just added a couple of cups to the three cups of chicken stock and cooked the risotto the way I normally would. It was quite nice–and I still have about half of the bag of squash left. I think I’m going to refreeze the rest of it for now, but my intention is to use it, again with some chicken stock and cheese, to make a mac and cheese sauce that isn’t quite so dependent on milk and butter.

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