Butternut Squash Cake with Brandy Butterscotch (& growth)

Everyone’s always talking about how much growth happens during the first year of marriage. Adjusting to a new life together, learning how to compromise, figuring out the best communication style to avoid hurt feelings.

Butternut Squash Cake with Brandy Butterscotch

All very real things that Seth and I have dealt with. All things that we’re learning as we grow in life and in love.

There’s also been a much more literal kind of growth in our first year together. We started a garden! We grew tomatoes, peppers, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi – the list goes on! There were rows of sweet corn and piles of green beans. Birds are still eating seeds from sunflowers the size of hubcaps. Then there were the total and complete failures too: radishes so spicy they made our eyes water, Brussels sprouts that never got larger than a marble, one measly little watermelon that was more rind than fruit.

Butternut Squash Cake with Brandy Butterscotch

This last failure I blame on our squash. I don’t know what it is about our soil, but our squash plants went absolutely bonkers. They took over a quarter of the space, crawled over the fence (and pulled it down!), and smothered any and all other plants in their path.

After the final vegetables were harvested, we were left with over a dozen butternut squash to deal with. I roasted and froze most of them. Contemplated a cheesecake. Ultimately, I settled on making this cake. The perfect autumnal treat! I actually made two versions of this cake. The one you see here and then a simpler version – made in a 9×13 pan and without the butterscotch. However, I think the layer cake is the way to go for the holiday season – in all it’s simple show-stopping glory!

Butternut Squash Cake with Brandy Butterscotch

This dessert utilizes butternut squash to add moisture and flavor to a delicately spiced cake. The cakes are sandwiched between layers of brandy butterscotch and a perfectly paired cream cheese frosting! Not a fan of butternut squash? Simply sub out pumpkin puree or another gourd of your choice.

Butternut Squash Cake with Brandy Butterscotch and Cinnamon & Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Active Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 – 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 100 – 130 minutes
  • Yields: 1 8-inch layer cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. maple extract
  • 2 cups butternut squash puree
  • 1 batch Brandy Butterscotch, recipe follows
  • 1 batch Cinnamon & Spice Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with baking spray, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, oil, and sugars together until incredibly light and fluffy, about five minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking soda, powder, spices and salt, set aside. Add the eggs, one at a time to the sugar mixture, mixing well to incorporate after each addition. Stir in extracts and squash puree until smooth. Gently fold in the dry ingredients, mixing well to combine. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The cakes should be golden, and tops should spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on wire rack. While the cakes cool, prepare the filling and frosting.

For the Brandy Butterscotch

Ingredients:

  • ¾ stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. corn syrup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP good quality Brandy

Directions: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until an instant read thermometer reads 225 degrees. Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla and Brandy. Lower heat and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened slightly, about five minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using on cake.

*Recipe adapted from Layered by Tessa Huff.

For the Cinnamon & Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 12oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup whole milk

Directions: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, spices, salt and milk. Ever so slowly, begin creaming together the mixture (go slow, or the powdered sugar will fly everywhere), gradually increase speed to medium and mix for 2 – 3 more minutes, or until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake: Cut each of the two cakes in half, so you have four equal layers. Place one layer on a cake board on a turn table. Spread ½ cup of frosting over the cake and pipe a ring of frosting around the edge to create a border. Pour 1/3 of the butterscotch mixture inside the border, smoothing into an even layer. Top with a second layer of cake, repeating the frosting, bordering, and butterscotch-ing process. Repeat with the third cake layer. Top with the final cake layer and place in fridge for 20 minutes. Remove cake and cover with a thin, even layer of frosting (the crumb coat) before returning to the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Cover with remaining frosting before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

*To achieve the swirl pattern, drag a small, offset spatula up the side and over the top of the cake while slowly spinning the turn table.  

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