6 November 2011

Butternut Squash Cupcakes

So, the second batch of cake this week is these butternut squash cupcakes. Some of you might gasp in horror at this idea, but think about carrot cake (yes, it really has carrots in it, just as these cakes really have butternut squash in them). I wanted to make pumpkin cupcakes originally, but Morrisons rarely stock anything that I want and the only type of squash that they had was butternut squash. There's nothing wrong with butternut squashes anyway, but Halloween this week put me in the mood for pumpkin type things.

Before I start to rant about Morrisons, I'll tell you about the icing for these cakes. Tired of the trials and tribulations I have recently experienced, I turned to Whisk Kid for her wonderful looking swiss meringue buttercream. I scaled the recipe down a bit and detailed it below, but for a full photo tutorial and even an explanation of why you do what you do and what do do it if goes wrong you should really visit her recipe. I stumbled on her site when I was looking for a rainbow cake recipe, and instead of finding what I wanted I found a whole host of other incredible cake recipes along with writing that puts mine to shame. I therefore strongly encourage you to check her site out, but only after finishing with mine!

I find these cakes to be wonderfully moist, and the combination of cinnamon with the squash was a good call. The icing has a very light texture and flavour, complimenting the cake well. If you think people eating your cakes might be skeptical about the butternut squash, don't tell them about it until they've eaten one of the cakes and exclaimed about their deliciousness.

You might notice in the photograph above that I have used both paper and silicone cupcake cases. This was no genius move; the reasoning behind it is that I only possess one cupcake baking tray and this recipe makes 20, so I needed some cupcake cases that would stand alone on a plain baking tray, which is what the silicone cases do. I do prefer the silicon cases as they keep the cakes moist for longer and are reusable, but the paper cases were a present and are pretty so I'm using them up.

Makes 20


For the cakes:
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Self Raising Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Powdered Cinnamon
For the icing:
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 40g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 2 Tsp Powdered Cinnamon
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Take two cupcake trays and place 20 cupcake cases into them.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are well combined with the mixture.
  • Add the combined flour, cinnamon and baking powder to the mixture little by little, stirring well.
  • If the mixture is a little stiff, add a few drops of milk. We are not looking for a soft dropping consistency here, though, because the butternut squash will add extra moisture to the cakes.
  • Cut the skin off the squash and chop it into medium-sized blocks, removing the seeds as you go. If you have a food processor with a grating attachement use that, otherwise grate the butternut squash by hand.
  • Fold the butternut squash into the cake mixture.
  • Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and put into the oven for 25 minutes/20 minutes fan oven.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven when they are golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.
  • Leave the cakes to cool on a cooling rack.
  • To make the icing, take a bowl and find a pan that it will sit on top of without falling into. Fill 1/3 of this pan with water, making sure that the water won't touch the bowl, and heat it until it starts to simmer.
  • Put the egg whites and sugar into the bowl, whisk together to combine them and place the bowl on top of the pan of simmering water.
  • Stir the eggs constantly until the sugar has dissolved. You can tell this has happened by putting your (clean!) fingers into the mixture and rubbing them together. If you can't feel grains of sugar between your fingers then you can move onto the next step.
  • Take an electric whisk (if you're a sane person - otherwise use a manual whisk) and whisk the egg mixture until you get stiff peaks. If the base of the mixing bowl still feels warm then put the whisked egg mixture into the fridge for 10 minutes or so to cool it. This ensures that your buttercream isn't too runny.
  • Chop the butter into small pieces and make sure that they are at least at room temperature. If they aren't warm enough, put them in the microwave for ten seconds.
  • Add a piece of the butter to the egg mixture and whisk it until it is thoroughly combined before adding the next. Repeat this process until all of the butter is combined.
  • If the icing is very runny, put it in the fridge again for another 10-20 minutes and continue to whisk.
  • Finally, whisk in the cinnamon.
  • Decorate the cakes either by spreading a teaspoon of the icing over each one until it has all been used up or by piping it. Finish by sprinkling the cakes with a little bit of powdered cinnamon.

Remember that this recipe can apply to any type of squash. If you find one in the supermarket that looks interesting or there's been one lying round the house for months (yes, months - they last that long) then use that one. Experiment!

If any of the terms in that recipe are gibberish to you, take a look at The Basics.

Check back on Thursday to see the fridge cake that I'll be making for E's birthday. See you then!

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