Ranks of gray misty rain march up the valley, the cats who are not ours are huddled on the porch, and I swear night fell about 3:30 this afternoon. Perfect weather for having the oven on all day - and between roasting the squash and baking the cake, I have an excuse to warm up my kitchen for a few hours. (I am only doing it so I can get a non-Halloween image; I promise we will not enjoy the cake at all. Really.)
I adapted this recipe a few weeks ago, when some good friends celebrated the tenth anniversary of their move to the fog valley with a potluck. The only request was that we use locally produced food if possible, something that is not exactly a stretch for most people around here, although mid-October isn't exactly the time of prime produce. I wanted to make dessert but the only fruit on hand was apples and pears, neither of which got me too excited. The squash, however, was abundant and diverse.
Starting with a recipe for a sweet potato cake, I swapped in squash, reduced the oil and added applesauce for moisture, then tossed in a hefty dose of fresh spices. After infusing the olive oil with sweet bay, I toasted and ground cardamon, then grated ginger and nutmeg. The squash and applesauce make for a moist, but not heavy, cake; and the mix of fresh spices make me swoon. Iced, this is a cake worthy of a party; unadorned it could be served as a coffeecake.