This buttermilk cake topped with frosting and crystallized ginger has a surprising ingredient in butternut squash. Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Over the past few months we have featured a few recipes which have vegetables showing up in odd places. There is the deep dark chocolate zucchini cake which nearly everyone I make it for absolutely adores. Then there’s the shaved, raw winter squash salad, the beet chocolate cake, and beet sorbet.

while back I asked for other recipes for vegetables in unexpected recipes. This recipe, called Buttermilk Cake, has a hefty 2 1/2 cups of grated butternut squash in it, perfect for right about now when the last squashes in storage may tend to show spots and cry out to be consumed.

This recipe comes from Ruth Thurston in Machias. I gave it a try and took it to Sewing Circle for our monthly birthday observance. Ruth tinkered with the recipe, and I further adapted from the one that appeared originally in Fine Cooking Magazine. In its original guise, it is a bit of a fuss-budget. I amped up the spices and smoothed out some of the procedures to match what really happens in kitchens that I am familiar with.

Despite the vegetables, this is not exactly what you call health food. Nonetheless, some of the substance of this cake, like the beet and zucchini cakes I mentioned, do convey added vegetable material into the reluctant veggie eaters in our midst. Don’t bother to tell them. Just slather on the frosting and pass it with a smile.

By the way, it pays to read the recipe through first before launching into the project. That is a good idea anytime, and I confess I forget, and am regularly stumped by a surprise overnight marinating or a few hours of some process or other.

Buttermilk Butternut Cake

For the cake:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup or 1 stick of butter

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

¾ cup buttermilk or sour milk

2 ½ cups grated butternut squash

For the frosting:

2 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons buttermilk, to start

1 teaspoon vanilla

A grating or sprinkle of nutmeg

Finely chopped crystallized ginger

Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a bundt or tube pan.

Sift together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the vegetable oil. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.

Half at a time, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, incorporating after each addition.

Finally, mix in the grated squash until it is well combined.

Spread in the pan, and bake for an hour to an hour and 10 minutes, until it is golden on the top, and a tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool.

Whisk together buttermilk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg.

Add more buttermilk, a very little at a time until the mixture is thick but pourable.

Dribble the frosting over the top of the cake, until it is as frosted as you like.

Sprinkle the chopped ginger over the top as a garnish.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...