Traditions and traditional things are to be appreciated all the time, especially at the holidays. Decorations, parades, songs, food … it all tugs at our heartstrings because the favorites have been around for what seems like forever.
Sometimes, it’s fun and excited to not change those things but just tweak them, give them a creative spin. Like purple Christmas lights (that’s what’s currently brightening out lanai) and cranberry sauce with a kick of habanero peppers. The sentiment remains the same, but with a little flair.
Maybe these adjustments are temporary or new traditions, but either way they put a little more pep in my holiday step.
And so does this squash spice cake. Pumpkin cake (and bread and pie and everything else) is always a hit, but it’s been done. A lot. So to change it up by using a much more flavorful gourd but still leaning on all those warm, holiday spices and a tangy cream cheese frosting brings back all those memories without being boring.
This cake is really perfect for any fall or winter occasion but the addition of a generous helping of salted caramel and a tiered presentation makes it quite special for a holiday get together. It will definitely put you on the nice list with anyone you share it with.
Spice cake made with squash instead of pumpkin and layered with salted caramel and crunchy pecans, and finished with cream cheese frosting.
2 cups paleo flour blend (2 cups almond flour, 1 ¼ cups tapioca starch, ¾ cup coconut flour)
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean powder
4 large eggs
¾ cup olive oil
2 cups cooked and mashed butternut or other pumpkin like squash
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
¼ cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved
¼ cup coconut butter
¾ teaspoon sea salt
16 ounces cream cheese
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup caramel sauce
1 tablespoon vanilla bean powder
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 cups toasted pecans, for assembly
Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/ 325 degrees F convection. Oil 2 8 or 9 inch cake pans and a smaller ramekin sized baking vessel and line the bottom only with parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, vanilla, eggs, oil, and squash until well combined. Stir in half the flour along with the spices. Whisk in the milk, then the remaining flour as well as the baking powder and baking soda.
Divide the batter among the pans and bake 25-30 minutes (the smaller one may be done closer to 20 minutes), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pans.
Make the caramel. In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, syrup, and water. Place over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cream as well as the espresso powder and vanilla bean seeds and pod and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 until thickened and deep amber in color. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut butter and salt. Pour into a bowl and cool.
When ready to assemble the cake, make the frosting. In a large bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the syrup, caramel, vanilla, and tapioca until the desired consistency is reached. You may desire to add a couple tablespoons of heavy cream if the frosting is not glossy enough.
Place one of the large cakes on the serving platter of your choice. Place a rim of frosting around the edge of the cake and then fill it with about ½ cup of the caramel and about ½ cup of the pecans, chopped. Top with the remaining large cake. Generously frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.
Take the smaller cake and slice it in half, horizontally. Place the bottom half on a flat surface, rim the edge with frosting, and fill the inside with 1/3 cup of caramel and 1/3 cup of chopped pecans. Frost it generously and place on top of the larger cake using a spatula.
Garnish the cake with pecan halves and pour caramel over the top to finish. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Recipe adapted from The Baker Chick
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 1 hour