gjelina's squash, olive oil, and chocolate cake

autumn, breakfast, desserts, winter, vegetarian, sweetRachel SandersComment

I woke up yesterday still wearing my Buddy Christ shirt from Halloween (guess who we were!) and feeling mildly sugar hungover + for reals hungover + a bit discombobulated by how bright it was given that my phone read 7:35 am. So I made coffee and decided to go through this month's Book of the Month, Gjelina, and find some things to make for you all.

This squashy chocolate-studded loaf was one of the very last recipes, and it looked so very pretty and easy enough that my brain could handle making it in spite of the metaphorical coat hanger crammed into my skull. You sift together the dry ingredients, mix up the wet ones, combine them briefly and fold in the chocolate, and pour the whole thing into a pan. If you've ever made pancakes or muffins or put together an IKEA bookcase, this recipe is going to be cake for you (bahaha).

I'm so sorry, all of the candy has made me especially weird today.

I, like most of America, am all about the pumpkin-spiced stuff, but I was somewhat surprised that one of my favorite parts of this recipe ended up being the glaze. It's a simple powdered sugar glaze that is fortified by olive oil, and good lord, is it delicious. I ate most of it out of the bowl and felt thoroughly sugared afterwards, but it was completely worth it. I think I might borrow it and use it to glaze this cake. Travis suggests omitting the glaze if serving this cake for breakfast, but don't do it, I beg of you. It's really fantastic, and it helps to cut through the richness of the cake (which, with the oil content and chocolate, is certainly up there, though in a very good way).

If anything, if you want it to be more breakfasty, halve the chocolate. I know, I can't believe I said that either.

Makes 1 9x5-inch loaf - serves 8-12

The original recipe calls for you to make your own kabocha squash purée, which adds some depth of squashy flavor. I've adapted the recipe for using canned pumpkin, but if you'd like to make your own purée, there are instructions at the end of the recipe.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup canned pumpkin purée or homemade squash purée
3 eggs
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
2 Tbsp hot water, plus more as needed
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp pepitas (raw, hulled pumpkin seeds), toasted in a dry skillet until nutty and browned
2 Tbsp crushed cacao nibs

Preheat the oven to 325˚F, and generously butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Whisk (or sift) together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, olive oil, pumpkin purée, and eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. (Adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients helps to prevent little dry pockets in the bottom of the bowl.) Fold in the chopped chocolate.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run an icing spatula or a thin knife carefully around the edges, and invert the cake from the pan. Re-invert the cake so that it is right-side-up and let cool on the rack for another 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioner's sugar with the water until smooth. Add more sugar and/or water until you have a glaze that is the consistency of honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to combine.

Pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with the pepitas and cacao nibs and let the glaze set completely (about 1 hour) before serving.

To make your own squash purée: Remove the seeds from a 1-pound piece of kabocha squash and drizzle the squash with olive oil. Place squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 425˚F oven for 30-45 minutes, until the squash is very soft and beginning to caramelize around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scrape out the soft flesh into the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Place the puréed squash on a large square of cheesecloth, and wrap into a tight bundle. Put the bundle into a colander, and place over a large bowl. Let drain at least 4 hours, or up to overnight. Twist the top of the bundle to squeeze out any additional liquid. Unwrap the drained squash, and measure out 1 cup of purée for the cake recipe. Cover and refrigerate any remaining purée for another use (may be stored for up to 5 days).

wholegrain pumpkin buttermilk pancakes

autumn, breakfast, vegetarian, winterFieldandForest2 Comments

The biggest complaint that Richard has (according to him, in life) is that some things taste too much like baking powder. (I just asked him if he has other complaints and he said, "Oh, I'm sure I do, but that's... that's a big one.")  But it can be a let down when I find a recipe that looks amazing and then see that it contains more than two teaspoons of baking powder.  Would he really notice, you ask, if I just used the full amount?  Yes, yes he would.  If he were a drug-sniffing dog in an airport, he probably wouldn't be able to nail down a suitcase full of cocaine, but he would undoubtedly be able to tell if the blueberry muffin you bought at the Starbucks in Terminal B was made with baking powder.  It is a gift.

This was kind of discouraging for me for a while, but I've recently taken to it as a challenge.  I don't really want baking powder to be a dominant flavor in a baked good, would you?  And luckily a fair number of pancake recipes which call for a lot of baking powder can be modified in various ways without compromising lift and fluffiness.  That's how I know these pancakes were a success: one, they were incredibly high and fluffy. Like, the fluffiest. Two, Richard took a bite and yelled "These don't taste like baking powder!" and proceeded to eat the rest of the pancakes left on my plate.  Luckily this recipe makes a crapload of pancakes, I think because I adapted it from the Pioneer Woman and her family of six (or more?) who spend their days working on their ranch.  We are a family of two who spend our days working at our desks, so needless to say that many of these pancakes end up in the freezer for later.

In case you're wondering what I changed about the pancakes, I'll tell you; I cut out a full tablespoon of baking powder, and replaced it with 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (I think that Richard is sensitive to the flavor of cream of tartar, which is usually the weak acid ingredient in baking soda).  I then changed out the milk in the recipe for buttermilk, which is acidic and reacted with the increased proportion of sodium bicarbonate (which is what baking soda is) to create CO2 and additional rise in the pancakes.  While the resulting pancakes were incredibly fluffy, they were SO tall that they actually took a while to cook.  If you're willing to compromise pancake height for the sake of speed, I might cut out the additional baking soda all together and just use a tablespoon of baking powder total.  I'd still use buttermilk for at least part of the liquid, though, because when is adding buttermilk to pancakes a bad idea?  Never, that's when.

Wholegrain Pumpkin Buttermilk Pancakes
makes 24-30 pancakes, serves 4-6

Dry ingredients:
2 cups spelt, kamut, or all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups liquid (use all buttermilk, all whole milk, or a half-and-half mixture)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted

To serve:
maple syrup
pomegranate arils (optional, but pretty!)
toasted pecans (optional, but tasty!)

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and whisk to thoroughly combine.  Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk to thoroughly combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (this is to prevent pockets of dry ingredients from hanging out at the bottom of your bowl unbeknownst to you), and whisk gently to just combine (over-mixing can develop gluten in the flour and create tougher pancakes).  Switch the whisk for a spatula and fold the mixture a few times, making sure that there are no pockets of dry ingredients hiding in your batter.

Place a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Test the heat of the pan by wetting your fingers under the faucet and flicking a few drops of water onto the pan's surface.  If the drops appear to fizzle and dance on the surface, your pan is hot and ready.  Smear a little butter in the pan with a spatula, and drop dollops of batter (a dollop for me was a little less than 1/4 cup of batter) on the skillet, making sure to give them a little room to spread.  Cook for 2-4 minutes on the first side, then flip, continuing to cook the pancakes for another minute or two before removing them to plates.  You can hold cooked pancakes in a low oven (200˚F) while you finish the rest of the batter, if you like.  Refrigerate or freeze leftovers for future breakfasts (just heat them in a dry pan or nuke them for a minute before eating, or if you're my sister, just enjoy them frozen).