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Monday, November 28, 2011

Birthday Cake for Breakfast Too





I have it on "good medical authority" that breakfast may be the ideal time to eat birthday cake, since you have the rest of the day when your metabolism could be at its best to work off those extra calories. Since this cake also has a cup of very healthy butternut squash in it (and some bitter chocolate for more healthy rationalization), it certainly should be able to be eaten both at the birthday dinner and the following morning for breakfast.

Okay, so this is still a pretty over the top treat that is best reserved for those special once a year type occasions like birthdays. Nonetheless, this is a wonderful cake to have in your arsenal of special family favorites.

The recipes here include a longtime favorite--chocolate carrot cake--adapted for the squash I have in abundance right now and a new, and maybe this time really "never fail" fudge frosting. (To see the way my previous favorite-for-flavor fudge frosting looks, you can check out
http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2011/08/zucchini-part-ii-dessert.html.)

Chocolate Butternut Squash Cake

2 c sugar
1 c butter, softened but not melted
4 eggs
1 c cooked, mashed or pureed butternut squash
1/3 c cocoa
1/2 t vanilla
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 c milk
1/2 to 1 c coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350. Oil well a Bundt or 10 inch tube pan. Sprinkle lightly with a mixture of about a teaspoon of cocoa and a teaspoon of flour and shake to evenly coat the bottom and about an inch or two up the sides of the pan. (You can use just flour for this step, but the cocoa adds a touch of flavor and eliminates the white spots on the crust that flour alone can leave.) It is important to be sure you have well-oiled and floured the pan to be sure the cake comes out with minimal problems.
2. Combine the sugar and butter. Beat together for several minutes, until the mixture is very light and fluffy. (Old-fashioned cooks would actually rub a little of the mixture between their fingers to observe whether the sugar was no longer granular to the touch.) This is a wonderful time to have a stand mixer!
3.  Add the eggs and continue beating another few minutes until the mixture is light and lemony.
4.  Pour in the squash, vanilla, and cocoa and stir until well-blended.
5.  Sift the dry ingredients together and then add alternately with the milk, stirring after each addition.
6.  Fold in nuts if used. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees fr 55 to 65 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
7.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove from pan. (I usually turn it directly on to the cake plate I will be using rather than on a cooling rack, as this is easier than trying to move the cake later.)

Variation:  Original Chocolate Carrot Cake--use 1 cup cooked and mashed or pureed carrots in place of the squash. 

Never Fail Microwave Fudge Frosting

1 c sugar
1/4 c milk
1/4 c butter
3/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 to 1 c miniature marshmallows

1.  Combine sugar, milk, and butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for about a minute and a half. Stir and return to microwave for another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the mixture has come to a full boil. (This is why you need a big bowl--it will increase in volume more than you ever thought!)
2.  Remove from microwave and immediately stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Beat well.
3.  Return the mixture to the microwave and heat for a minute or two at power level 2 or 3. Again remove the mixture and beat until the chips and marshmallows are completely melted into the mixture.
4.  Spread the frosting on the cake while still warm, as it sets rather quickly.


This recipe stays a little within the "frugal, fast, and fun" parameters of this blog by using cocoa instead of baking chocolate, and it is a fun part of our family birthday traditions. Since I also try to add "fit" to most of my recipes, I could say that the squash makes this cake "healthy," but that is probably more of a stretch than reality. And fast? Well, you could make a cake mix cake or you could cut back on the amount of time creaming the butter and sugar, but sometimes maybe it's good to slow down and go back to a kind of heritage recipe, for the experience of making a "real" cake if nothing else.



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