What Is Butternut Cake?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2019
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The urge to nurture means that few cooks are happy with just cooking, if they can figure out ways to get even more nourishment into the people they're feeding. Most cooks want to cram as much healthiness into their family members and friends as they can, and that’s why some figured out long ago that certain vegetables such as butternut squash make fine additions to sweet breads and cakes. Any cake that uses butternut squash as an ingredient in the batter can be called a butternut cake. This cake has become an instant favorite in many households, where unsuspecting younger diners often assume that the name refers to lots of butter and lots of nuts in the batter.

Butternut cake does, in fact, have butter, but not as much as a nibbler who is impressed with its velvety texture might think. Adding butternut squash to cake batter has the same effect as adding applesauce; it can be used to replace part of the fat. In fact, many recipes capitalize on the opportunity to squeeze in some homemade or jarred applesauce as well as buttermilk, thus increasing the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients in this delicious, moist cake.


Just as nutmeg and ginger go naturally well with baked butternut squash, they also add a little zing to butternut cake. Many cake recipes call for flavored extract of some type. Using imitation flavors saves a little money, but only a little, and the sacrifice in terms of flavor can be pronounced. For the best butternut cake, the wise cook will include real vanilla extract. People who want to try something different might use lemon or orange extract instead.

Adding nuts to the cake will not only help fool many children into thinking that there are no vegetables hiding out in the sweet treat, they’ll add crunchy little nuggets and flavor. Walnuts are a natural fit, just as they are when served atop baked butternut squash or in a squash casserole. Pecans or cashews make nice alternatives, as well.

Cooks who have no fear of calories can create a glorious butternut cake with double the butter instead of applesauce, sweetened condensed milk instead of buttermilk and twice the eggs. Some cooks aren’t content to leave it at that and make icing out of with confectioner’s sugar, cream cheese and butter. After a cook has mastered the fine art of these cakes, there are many vegetables that can be surprisingly sweet when added to a cake. Shredded or minced carrots make a wonderful carrot bread or cake, for example, and zucchini is used by many cooks in baked goods.


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