Tuesday, December 8, 2020

When Absurdity Gives You A Squash, Make Cake

large butternut squash
 The local Arboretum, where I manage photography education, employs a couple who've been growing an absurd variety of squash. In fall, it's quite a spectacular display. Some of these end up for sale and I happened to show up on two for one day, and that's how I ended up with two ridiculously giant "butternut" squash. I cooked one in the oven to eat as a side, but found it too fibrous and moist to enjoy the way we might delicata or acorn, or even ordinary-sized butternut squash. What to do?
Out of the oven, into the fridge until...

A cake was born. It had to be sugar-free, since that's the new way, here. Sweet is allowed, as long as it comes from fibrous sources like dates. If you google pumpkin bread, you'll get millions of hits. If you search for sugar-free pumpkin bread, you'll get a bunch of keto, vegan, gluten free, paleo wonk, but few, if any pages dedicated to the refined sugar-free. So, one must adapt, and adapt I did. Recipe follows:

Refined Sugar Free Squash Bread (Cake)


  • 1 cup of unbleached flour, all-purpose works
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, all the healthier -right?
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp all-spice, what a catch all name
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground of course
  • Zest of an orange, although, when in a pandemic, I pass up going to the grocery for one orange
  • 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 cups (more moist, less moist) of pureed (or vigorously stirred), cooked squash 
  • 1/3 cup oil (or 1 stick of softened butter in my case)
  • 2 eggs, preferably from your neighbor's chickens
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (glad to get that jug of it from Costco, pandemic baking and all)
  • 2 cups whole, dried dates (thanks again Costco), one chopped and the other soaked in warm water and then pureed. 
  • Chopped walnuts, as much as you like, or none if you wish
  • Sugar-free Lily chocolate chips if you're into that (chocolate is one place the alcohol sugars hold up well)

On To It

Preheat oven to 350 F

Butter up a loaf pan, average size, maybe 9x4x3 inches

Warm 1 cup of water in the microwave or stove-top and place 1 cup of dates into it to soften. Once softened, mix manually or with a machine to puree (doesn't need to be perfect). In a medium-large bowl, combine both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. In another bowl, place the pureed dates, oil or butter, squash puree, and orange zest (if you went to the store to get one orange) and mix well. Add the two eggs to this mixture, then the vanilla and mix it up. Add this bowl to the flour bowl and now you're cooking. 

Fold the ingredients together into a smooth consistency (well, as smooth as it can get, don't go crazy). At this time you can add the chopped dates, the nuts, and chips (if those are part of your diet), and fold it all together. Get that mixture into the buttered baking pan and it into the oven for, hard to say, 45-55 minutes. Check on it. Do the toothpick into the center test. When done, take it out and let cool for twenty minutes before turning it upside down for removal. Then enjoy. You can freeze it or refrigerate it, or eat it all in one sitting. 

Post Script: For a guy who teaches photography, those images up there are real orange, absurdly orange, like the times.

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