Butternut Squash Snack Cake

When I worked for Purple Asparagus, one of my favorite classes was Pumpkin & Squash (my actual always-favorite was herbs because kids think it's so weird). I'd go into a classroom (this was especially common among the kindergarten set) and their eyes would go HUGE and they'd do this, like, completely awed "Pumpkin? Like....the ones we....carve?" Every. Single. Time.

Yep, pumpkin like the ones we carve. And squash that looks like some kind of mangled, tortured old thing, except in a couple of cases, like the kind I used in this here snack cake. The initial iteration of this cake was a little gluten-free guy baked in a loaf pan and studded with chocolate chips. Uhh...yeah...that's not the recipe you're going to get here.

Snack cake is my favorite kind of cake because it allows me to justify eating cake all day, every day, at any time of day, no matter what. It's a little trick I play on myself. The kind of trick that results in cake.

This 'final' (LOL...) version is full of gluten (sorry, guys) and subs out butternut squash for the pumpkin because I found canned butternut squash puree sitting riiiight next to the cans of pumpkin and compulsively bought some. The seeds on top make me feel like it's semi-healthy and then I drizzle (or dump...oops) the very sweet brown sugar, maple, cinnamon glaze on it and come back to Earth. Anyways, the lesson learned here is: always call cake 'snack cake' because then it doesn't have to be just for dessert. Eat cake for breakfast. Or lunch. I won't tell.

Butternut Squash Snack Cake

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt (I use kosher)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

1 Tablespoon tahini

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

About 7 1/2 ounces butternut squash puree (or pumpkin!)

3 Tablespoons pepitas

1 Tablespoon flax seeds

3 Tablespoons maple syrup (real - Aunt Jemima can help out next time)

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Sprinkle of cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan. Beat the butter and sugars together until light, fluffy and smooth, about 7-10 minutes, but really, as long as you need to get it to that point.

Mix the flour, spices, salt and baking powder in a little bowl. Whisk to combine. 

Add eggs to sugar mixture, one at a time, and beat until fluffy again. Add tahini, vanilla and squash puree. Mix it all up. Add the dry mixture, a little bit at a time, and mix until just combined.

Pour/spread the cake batter into the prepared pan and top with pepitas and flax seeds. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleanly. Totally feel free to let it cool all the way before adding your glaze OR hey, don't add it at all. That is a totally allowed thing to do. I took my cake out of the pan so that I could put it on this cute little cake stand - no need, really. I've made it, left it in the pan and poured the glaze over the whole thing. It'll be OK.

Stir together the syrup, sugar and cinnamon in a little, like, cereal bowl. Drizzle over the cake. Slice and serve. Again, I highly encourage breakfast cake.