This large, moist cake is studded with dates and sweetened with maple syrup. While it’s easily transformed into a spice cake (see below), you might find, as I do, that the subtle flavors of the squash, maple and date are more noticeable without the spice. I like this cold weather cake served with maple-flavored yogurt or with vanilla ice cream, plus a drizzle of apple caramel syrup or warm maple syrup. If you want a topping, a cream cheese icing is a good choice.
By / Photography By Heather Gill | September 15, 2010

Instructions

Heat oven to 350°. Generously butter and flour a 9-inch spring-form pan.  Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir them together with a whisk to blend.

Cream the butter on high with the sugar until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and slowly pour the syrup into the butter mixture, then add the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is well incorporated and scraping down the bowl between additions. When well blended, stir in the squash.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in ½ cup increments until all is incorporated. Remove the mixing bowl and using a large rubber scraper, give the batter several turns, scraping along the sides and bottom of the bowl, to make sure all the flour has been incorporated. Finally, add the dates to the batter. Scrape the batter into the pan and even out the surface.

Bake in the middle oven until firm and springy and a cake tester comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. When mostly cool, release the rim and carefully transfer the cake from the pan onto a cake plate. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, plain, frosted with the cream cheese icing, or with ice cream and apple caramel or maple syrup.

Winter Squash Spice Cake variation (add to the dry ingredients)

1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon allspice and 1⁄8 teaspoon powdered cloves.

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Ingredients

Cake
  • Butter for the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour or whole-wheat white flour and all-purpose mixed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3⁄8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup dark maple syrup (Grade B)
  • ¾ cup maple sugar or organic brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed winter squash, such as Kobocha, Perfection or Butternut
  • 1½ cups (about l6) Medjool dates, pitted and quartered
Topping
  • Apple caramel syrup, maple syrup or cream cheese frosting
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