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For the past month or so, the weather seemed unable to make a firm decision- was Minnesota in the autumn, summer or spring category?  Sometimes it was warm enough for tshirts and shorts, sometimes it was hard frost, and finally we had a two-day long, Class II Hurricane.  At any rate that’s how the TV weather people characterized it.   And today, we suddenly discover we are in the path of a major winter storm -warning with a big snow predicted for tonight!

What does this have to do with Squash Cake.  Well I received a gift of 2 gorgeous squashes, and a beautiful bottle of maple syrup, so I decided to make good use of them.  Squash cake is a warming, spicy and good-for-you treat.   I think one of the squashes is a kabocha, and I’m guessing that this brilliant orange fruit is an Ambercup.  You can see a good pictoral guide at this web-address:  http://whatscookingamerica.net/squash.htm

This is basically the same as pumpkin cake- I use any winter squashes interchangeably:  Pumpkins, Acorn, Turbans, Hubbards, Butternut- you name it.  Some are lighter, some are meatier, some have a pronounced flavor.  I split one small squash, seeded it,

cut it into slender wedges and baked it on a tray covered with foil at 350F for about 45 minutes, and then allowed it to cool.  That makes it easier to remove the skin and mash it with a fork.  Canned or frozen pumpkin makes a perfectly good substitute, and it is less labor intenstive.

Prepare a 10-inch tube-cake pan or bundt-cake pan by greasing and flouring it well.  I have an old-fashion Kugelhopf pan, which makes a pretty cake, and  I like to use butter for the flavor.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

Ingredients:

2 cups refined or turbinado sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice (I grind this one fresh)

2 cups squash or pumpkin puree

Beat sugar and eggs until light, using medium/medium-high speed with an electric mixer.  Add oil and incorporate thoroughly.  Sift all the dry ingredients together and add to the batter beating for about a minute, followed by blending in the squash puree.  That is truly how simple this recipe is.

Pour into the tube pan and bake at 350F for 1 hour, and do not open the oven door or disturb it for the first 20 minutes.  The cake will pull slightly away from the sides, and you can test it at the hour-mark with a wooden toothpick or wooden skewer.  Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing to  a cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before putting on a plate- and this cake is good either with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or cream cheese frosting.  You can also probably bake this very successfully in a 9″ X 13″ cake pan, or 2 round cake pans (I’d recommend 9″ pans).  In this case, adjust your baking time, but I suggest keeping the temperature at 350F.

The season has changed and the local farmers markets are winding down. Fortunately I was able to find some fine vegetables on both of the past 2 weekends.  National trends are indicating a focus on healthy neighborhoods, so this bodes well for our cities.

If you want to oven roast some fall vegetables like the ones in the photo, this is what I used (with apologies for the blurry pic.  *A perennial  reminder to double click on the pic any time you want to see things POV):

2 medium sized, fresh rutabagas, unwaxed

2 small carrots

a medium butternut squash

about 2 cups of very small brussels sprouts

a pound of scrubbed and trimmed baby beets

a small root of celeriac

Dice everything to approximately one inch cubes and toss with 1/3 cup of olive oil, along with a generous tsp of grey salt and a full tsp of freshly ground black pepper, in a shallow 9 x 13 baking pan.

Cover all with foil (remember to recycle the foil, if your county supports it) and bake at 400F for a good 3/4 hour.  You could add some sliced fingerling potatoes, onions, a few whole cloves of garlic, and some sprigs of  fresh or dried thyme –or bay leaves.  This is one of the reasons I love Fall.