Tag Archives: cinnamon

Maple-Oat Scones with Pecans

First, my apologies. Apparently, the latest version of WordPress has a bug and does not allow media files to be uploaded. Therefore, this will be a picture-less blog post. But I hope you can envision the scones after reading about them!

I went to the dr. recently and discovered that I have hypothyroidism. I knew something was wrong, but I had my TSH tested a year ago and it was normal. It wasn’t until I pressed my dr. to do more thorough tests that my thyroid appeared to be abnormal. It was both a relief and an added stress to find this out. A relief because now I am on medication and hopefully it will help my thyroid, and an added stress because from what I know about thyroid disease, it is extremely hard to treat, and people often times end up taking medication for life.

Because of my hypothyroidism, I’ve gained 10 lbs. in the last 6 months. It’s been very difficult emotionally. I had a very dysfunctional relationship with food throughout most of my life. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started educating myself on how to eat healthier while still enjoying sweets and higher calorie foods in moderation. As a result, I lost 25 lbs. Even then, it took several years not to feel anxious when I would allow myself dessert. I was always scared that I would gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose. Now, over ten years later, going through this has triggered all those old feelings of self-loathing and negative body image. It has affected my self-esteem and the way I carry myself. What’s more, it has severely impacted my relationship with food. I have regressed back to seeing food as the enemy much of the time. I am working very hard on eating healthy as much as possible, while still allowing myself an indulgence when I want it. But I have days when I want to just say, “F*** it. What’s the point if I am going to gain weight regardless of what I eat!” It’s an uphill battle.

I have been on thyroid medication for one week now, and am hopeful that it will treat my hypothyroidism. If not, this may have to be my new normal. I know a lot of women struggle with acceptance surrounding their bodies and weight, so I am not alone in this. It’s just hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

On a more positive note, I made scones! And delicious scones they are. I am a big fan of the maple-pecan combination in sweets, so I tweaked one of my favorite scone recipes. It’s from Amy’s Bread, where I currently work. We carry these oat scones every day of the week, but the fruit/nut mixture changes every day. My favorite is the almonds/currants combo. My sister is visiting this weekend, so I thought these would be good with brunch.

Maple-Oat Scones with Pecans
Adapted from Amy’s Bread

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cold, 1/2-inch dice
2 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup, pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

  1. Position one rack in the top third of the oven, one rack in the bottom third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line the sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the 2 flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda, and process them for 5 seconds, until they are just combined.
  3. Add the butter and process again for 10 to 15 seconds, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. The largest pieces of butter should be about the size of tiny peas. The butter should be suspended in tiny granules throughout the flour, not rubbed into it to make a doughy mass. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and stir in the oats and pecans until they are evenly distributed.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, maple extract, and vanilla extract. Remove 1/3 cup of this mixture and set it aside. Pour the remaining liquid over the dry ingredients and lightly and briefly stir them together, just until everything is barely moistened.
  5. Using your hands, drop free-form portions of dough about 3 1/2 inches in diameter onto the prepared baking sheets. Evenly space 6 scones on each sheet. Using a pastry brush, dab the reserved buttermilk mixture generously all over the tops of the scones and sprinkle them lightly with turbinado sugar (white sugar will work fine if you don’t have this on hand).
  6. Place one pan on each oven rack and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and rotate the pans from top to bottom. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the scones are a deep golden brown on both the top and bottom. A tooth pick inserted in the center of a scone should come out clean. Remove the scones from the pans to cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently learned that my cholesterol is dangerously high.  In lieu of going on medication, I decided to actively try and cut out a decent amount of sugar from my diet.  Of course, there will still be plenty of dark chocolate.  I mean, I haven’t lost my mind.  There will ALWAYS be dark chocolate in my life.  What’s more, I have a huge sweet tooth.  Therefore, dessert will always be a part of my life as well, but I needed to find some recipes that incorporate sugar substitutions.   Turns out, there is a lot out there.  For the most part, bananas and dates are the healthiest options when substituting sugar in a recipe.  Although they still contain a decent amount of sugar– like fruit– they also contain fiber, which slows down the rate at which the body absorbs the sugars from the fruit.  Therefore, I have been making A LOT of (healthier) desserts lately to try and figure out what works and what doesn’t work.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of my favorite things to eat around the holidays is gingerbread-flavored anything.   I love the spices, along with the deep, complex flavor of molasses.  I had a deliciously spicy slice of gingerbread loaf last week from a bakery in Manhattan.  It inspired me to try and give gingerbread muffins a go, but with no sugar (other than the molasses, which I made an exception for).  They turned out really well.  My only complaint is that they are not quite spicy enough.  Therefore, if you really want that bite that you get from a gingersnap cookie, feel free to double the amount of ginger in this recipe.  If you are ok with a milder flavor, these will be perfect for you.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHealthy Gingerbread Muffins
Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Yield:  22 Mini-muffins

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (sub 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
11/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Candied ginger, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or butter.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the molasses.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, yogurt, milk, ginger, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
  3. Add the olive oil and molasses from step one.
  4. Add the flours, baking soda, salt, and dry spices. Stir a few times until just combined. Scoop into a mini-muffin tin and place a piece of candied ginger on top of each muffin. Bake for 10-12 minutes (if making full-size muffins, bake for 17-20 minutes) or until the tops are puffy and firm to the touch. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

DSC_6087I ran a 10K a few weekends ago.  It was the first one I’ve run in 2 1/2 years.  A friend of mine gave me her spot in the race, so I took it as an opportunity to try and push myself.  My workout routine became very slack over the summer months– that and perhaps too many sweets­­– which resulted in my pants being tighter than they should be.   So it felt good to have a goal to work towards.  I did a lot of running intervals on the treadmill at 6 a.m., and subsequently, remembered what it was like to feel euphoric after a good workout.   Things went along pretty smoothly over the course of my 4 weeks of training, even though I knew I might be pushing myself more, and faster, than I should be.   However, on my last long run before the race, I hit a wall.  I don’t know what happened, but I had to stop and walk several times.  My legs felt like lead.  It was a horrible run, and I felt really shitty about it.  In retrospect, I might have been focusing too much on my speed.  Afterword, I tried to reassure myself that a less-than-stellar run was o.k.  Despite my anxiety about the upcoming race, I told myself to focus on going slow and running the entire 10K, and not worry about my finishing time.
DSC_6078I woke up at 5:30 a.m. that Sunday morning and headed into Manhattan.  I tried to shake off any lingering doubts about my recent running performance.  I repeated a mantra:  Slow and steady; just finish.  It was a beautiful morning.  The sun was just coming up, and there was a cool breeze coming off the Hudson River.  I ran what I thought was a super-slow pace.  Many, many people passed me.   I just put my head down and kept running.   I felt really good for the entire race.  I figured if I had enough energy towards the end, I would pick up my pace a bit and try to finish strong.   Indeed, I did.  I ran an 11-minute mile, which is a personal best for me.   I was incredibly proud of myself, and my feeling of euphoria lasted the rest of the day.  I remember thinking that I wanted to hold on to this feeling for as long as possible.  If only we could retrieve feelings the way we can pull up a song to elicit a memory.  I hope to remember that feeling when I’m having a crummy day.  As a reward for the 10K, I treated myself to my favorite pancakes in the city at Johnny’s Luncheonette.
DSC_6081Speaking of pancakes (I didn’t even plan that transition!), these zucchini bread pancakes need to go on your Make Immediately recipe list.  Light and healthy, they also scream, “Fall is finally here!”  And the maple yogurt is the perfect topping on these, as straight up maple syrup would be too sweet for these beauties, in my opinion.  Instead, the tang of the yogurt provides a nice complement to the sweet spices.
DSC_6089Zucchini Bread Pancakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield:  10 to 12 pancakes

2 large eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons light brown or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk or 2 tablespoons each of milk and plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 1/2 medium zucchini)
1 cup all-purpose flour (half can seamlessly be swapped with a whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Butter or oil, for coating skillet

1. In a large bowl, combine eggs, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in zucchini shreds.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into zucchini batter, mixing until just combined.
3. Preheat oven to 200°F and place a baking sheet on a middle rack.
4. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, melt a pat of butter in pan and swirl it around until it sizzles.
5. Scoop scant 1/4-cup dollops of batter in pan so the puddles do not touch. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook another minute or two, until golden underneath.
6. Transfer pancakes to prepared pan to keep warm as well as ensure that they’re all cooked through when they’re served. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm.

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing

DSC_5199I went home last weekend to surprise my sister for her 40th birthday.  I forgot how fun it is to surprise people.  The night before her birthday, on Halloween, I showed up at her door wearing a mask and said, “Trick or Treat!”  She immediately started jumping up and down and screamed something like, “No you did NOT!”  I don’t really know what that means, but it was fun to see her surprised.
DSC_5171I don’t make it back to Minnesota that often anymore, but when I do it’s usually a mad scramble of trying to fit in time with my divorced parents, my sister, and both of my grandmothers, among other people.   I wanted this trip to be different.  I was going back essentially to celebrate my sister, so everyone else was going to be an “If I have time” item on my list.  The morning of my sister’s birthday, my dad asked if he could take my sister and I to a little river town in Wisconsin for breakfast.  I realized after we got into the car that we had not spent time together just the three of us in many years.  I know I have a horrible memory, but I want to say that it’s been since maybe high school?   It was such a nice time, and so unexpected, that I found myself trying to really soak it all in.  After breakfast, we decided to visit the top of a nearby bluff that has beautiful scenery.  On the way there, I was overcome with a strong feeling of tranquility.  It made me so happy to know that the three of us can spend time together and truly enjoy each other’s company.  Like most families, we have had our share of rough patches.  I really wanted to turn to them and say, “I love you guys”, the way I would to a close girlfriend but I was afraid it would make things awkward.   So I didn’t.  I let the moment pass.  I hope the next time I am overcome with emotion for them I have the courage to tell them how I feel.
DSC_5204I have been meaning to buy a bundt pan for over a year.  I finally bought one a month ago, and was so excited about it that I had the crazy idea I was going to make a different type of bundt cake every week.  Well, I’ve made one so far.  And of course it was pumpkin.  There’s really no other option when the beginning of fall is in the air and the weather starts to change.  What am I going to make­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­– a zucchini cake??  PLEASE.  I increased the amount of spices from the original recipe, and also substituted a bit of brown sugar for the granulated sugar.  The only thing this recipe needs is chocolate chips.  Then it would be perfect.

DSC_5208Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing
Adapted from Gourmet

Cake
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 oz. can)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs

Icing
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Special equipment:  a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan

1.  Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.
2.  Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl.
3.  Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.
4.  Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks), brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute.
5.  Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.
6.  Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
7.  Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and re-invert cake onto rack.  Cool 10 minutes more.
8.  While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth.  Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely.  Icing will harden slightly.

 

Blueberry Cobbler w. Cheddar Biscuits

DSC_5067I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog.  I recently started working full-time at a bakery in Manhattan, and I’d forgotten how mentally draining it feels after a busy day at work.  I interact with people all day long, and it is becoming increasingly hectic as we move into our busy season.   I am really enjoying it there, and frankly I’m grateful to have a full-time job in this economy.  But it’s been tricky trying to balance self-care with working full-time again.  I need to get better at learning how to schedule my time.  I think some people call that time management.  I’ve only gone to yoga a few times this month, and recent weekends have consisted mainly of basic requirements i.e. buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning, etc.  The older I get, the more I realize that perhaps I just need to accept the fact that I am the type of person who needs to keep constant lists so as not to forget what it is I need to do and/or want to do in the future.  Oh right!  I enjoy going to movies during the week!  It takes me out of my head, and sometimes even makes me feel things. 

My husband made fun of me the other night.  I was telling him that I felt guilty for bailing on next month’s book for my book club.  “I REALLY don’t like it”, I whined.  “And there are just SO MANY books on my reading list that I can’t be bothered to finish a book if it doesn’t grab me right away.”  He smiled and responded with, “Wow, sounds like you’re grappling with a big problem there.”  And that is why I love him.  He has a way of finding humor in almost anything.  If feeling guilty about not finishing a book is my biggest problem right now, I guess I’m doing ok in the self-care department.  Until I discover a movie that I can’t get through…oh god.
DSC_5054I made this Blueberry Cobbler w/ Cheddar Biscuits recipe at the peak of summer when blueberries were in the ether in this part of the country.  I was craving a baked fruit dessert and this looked tantalizing.  It fell a bit flat and I’m not sure why.  It was neither overly sweet nor too heavy.  It was just kind of bland.  I think I would make it again with a tad more sugar and cinnamon.  That said, you better believe I scraped the blueberries off the biscuits and ate them with homemade granola for added sweetness and crunch.  I couldn’t let the ENTIRE dessert go to waste.
DSC_5056Blueberry Cobbler w/ Cheddar Biscuits
Adapted from How Sweet It is

3 cups blueberries
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

cheddar biscuit topping
2/3 cup all-purpose flour2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
7-8 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a bowl, toss the blueberries with the sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon and add them to a 6 or 8-inch oven-safe skillet.
3.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
4.  Add in the butter and mix with a fork, pastry blender or your fingers until the butter is in crumbs and pieces.
5.  Fold in the grated cheese, then stir in the milk and vanilla extract until a dough has come together but is just combined.
6.  Spoon the dough on top of the blueberries.
7.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is set and the blueberries are juicy and bursting.

 

 

Dutch Baby Pancake

DSC_4022I am a complete pancake snob and it’s all my grandma’s fault.  She owned a café when I was growing up, and she made the best buttermilk pancakes in all the land.  If cooking/travel shows had existed back then, I am positive they would have declared her pancakes to be the best.  She would have made Bobby Flay weep in a pancake “throwdown”.  My grandma essentially ruined pancakes for me for the rest of my life. *sigh*  Her pancakes were like a beautiful stack of clouds with crispy, golden brown edges smothered in fresh butter.  My parents would drop off my sister and I at the café almost every morning throughout my first year of school.  It was my grandma’s responsibility to feed us before we walked to school.  I don’t remember eating anything other than those pancakes.  Every.  Single.  Morning.  Looking back, I wonder if she ever became concerned that I was carbo-loading before school every day.  I was already a slightly chubby kid, and the pancakes ensured that I grew out of my pants very quickly. DSC_4014Now, I’ve tried hundreds of pancakes throughout my 37 years.  For many years, it was my go-to brunch choice.  I thought if I just ordered pancakes at enough restaurants, eventually I would strike gold.  They can’t ALL taste like cardboard, can they??  Oh yes, yes they can.  Since then, I have only found one other restaurant (ONE!) that makes pancakes as good as my grandma’s.  It happens to be a greasy spoon diner in Manhattan called Johny’s Luncheonette.  They are moist and tangy from the buttermilk and yet nice and crispy around the edges.  This place is actually one block away from my husband and I’s old apartment in Chelsea.  We lived together in that apartment for three years but we didn’t discover Johny’s until the last six months we were there.  I was both elated to find it and yet saddened that it had been there all along without my knowledge.  I am serious about my pancakes.  DSC_4017I wish I had known about Dutch baby pancakes much earlier.  I guess I did, technically speaking.  There is a restaurant in Rochester, MN called Pannekoeken that makes pancakes in the style that originates from The Netherlands/Belgium- essentially Dutch baby pancakes.  They are much wider and thinner than American pancakes, and are typically baked in a skillet.  I know I had them occasionally at Pannekoeken growing up but they were never all that memorable.   Again, thanks Grandma.  A friend alerted me to this recipe a couple of years ago and said I had to try it.  She was sure it would make the cut.  She was right.  I think I ate half the pan that morning in-between raving about it to my husband.  The recipe comes from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.  It’s a great investment if you are looking for a worthwhile cookbook to add to your collection.

Dutch baby pancakes are eggier and sweeter than American pancakes.  There is also plenty of butter in the pancakes themselves so no need to add any on top.  After they have finished baking, all you have to do is sprinkle confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice on top and voilá, breakfast is served.  The best part is that you don’t have to stand over the stove and make an infinite number of pancakes, which can be time consuming.  Dutch babies are baked in the oven and take all of 15 minutes.  I added a dollop of elderberry jam to mine, just because.

DSC_4027Dutch Baby Pancake
Adapted from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite

Yield:  1 pancake

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

1.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, cinnamon, and salt until combined.  The mixture will be lumpy.
2.  In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  When the butter has melted, carefully pour in the pancake batter and transfer the skillet to the oven.  Bake until the pancake is puffy and golden brown around the edges, about 15-20 minutes.
3.  Working quickly, take the skillet out of the oven and, using a fine-mesh sieve, shake the confectioner’s sugar over the pancake.  Return the skillet to the oven until the butter has been absorbed into the pancake and the sugar is lightly caramelized, an additional 3 minutes.
4.  Splash the lemon juice over the pancake, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.

Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

DSC_3830When I first moved in with my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time), I remember being very excited to cook for him.  Before I moved in, I had been living out in Park Slope with a nice roommate found on Craigslist.  We never ate meals together since we had completely opposite schedules, and I rarely cooked since cooking for one is no pleasure at all.  I ate a lot of hummus, salsa and egg salad on rice cakes.  Looking back, I don’t know how I went without a hot meal for so long.  I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that I was in love, and hot meals were a very low priority at the time.  I’m still in love with my husband but hot meals have moved up the priority list since then.

DSC_3812 After getting settled into Mr. K’s apartment, I started to cook up a storm.  I remember feeling like I wanted to really impress him with my cooking skills.  I had made a couple of meals for him out in Park Slope, but I was going to blow him away with my talent.  He was going to feel so loved and nurtured by my cooking.  He would become so appreciative of having a girlfriend that could not only cook but could BAKE that he would be walking around in a constant state of bliss.  We were going to have long, leisurely conversations as we ate our home-cooked meals at the table.  Well, it didn’t really happen that way.  To begin with, I noticed that he would stop talking the minute food was put in front of him.  He also ate his food extremely fast.  In addition, he had become used to eating in front of the television after several years of living solo.   I wanted to have a conversation with him about food.  More specifically, what food meant, means, to me.  For me, food is pleasure, comfort, gratification, and satisfaction.  I feel nurtured when someone makes a home-cooked meal for me.  Likewise, I cook for people to show them that they are important to me.  When I shared this with him, I asked him if he felt the same way.  Turns out, we approach food differently.  He, like me, loves to eat but he doesn’t look at it as a way of nurturing himself.  Rather, it is something to simply be enjoyed.  Throughout our 4-1/2 years together, he has cooked approximately 6 meals for me.  It would be a lot easier for me to accept the fact that he does not enjoy cooking if he were, in fact, a horrible cook.  But he is a fantastic cook!  Everything he makes is exquisite, and it only makes me wish that he cooked more often.  Even better, there is real entertainment value in watching him make a meal.  He’s like a mad scientist in the kitchen.  He tapes his recipe to the cupboard, and not only am I not allowed in the kitchen, but I am not allowed to speak to him while he is cooking lest he lose his concentration.  After we eat the delicious meal he prepared, I step into the kitchen where it looks like it has been ransacked by wolves.  He hasn’t quite gotten the art of cleaning up as he goes.  But I’m confident he’ll figure it out eventually.

DSC_3822 I haven’t made a cake in a very long time.  This recipe is the perfect gateway to bigger and fancier cakes.  It is very simple but still fulfills your cake craving.  The squash adds moisture, much like zucchini does in zucchini bread.  The pecans are in the cake as well as sprinkled on top so you get some crunch.  But I think the highlight of this recipe is the ginger.  I fell in love with ginger a couple of years ago.  I don’t think it’s used enough, especially in baking.  Most recipes call for dried ginger, but I say go ahead and add freshly grated ginger whenever possible.  It really does make a difference.  The white chocolate frosting is a very thin layer.  If you like a sweeter cake, double the frosting recipe.  If you are someone like me who loves baked goods with fall spices this time of year, try this recipe.  And because of the squash, you will be eating your vegetables along with the cake.

DSC_3837Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

Yield:  8 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded peeled butternut squash
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans, divided

3 tablespoons whipping cream
3 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray.
2.  Whisk flour and next 6 ingredients in medium bowl.
3.  Using an electric mixer, beat squash, brown sugar, butter, egg, ginger, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl to blend.
4.  Fold in flour mixture and 1/2 cup pecans.  Transfer to pan, spreading to edges (layer will be thin).  Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Cool.
5.  Bring cream just to boil in small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat.
6.  Add white chocolate and remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; whisk until smooth.
7.  Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread, about 20 minutes.  Spread over cake.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup nuts over cake.