Sunday, 27 October 2013

Butternut Squash Cake...practicing for Christmas (eek I know)

I had a crazy dream the other night involving a pumpkin trifle...clearly I've got pumpkin everything on the brain.  This year "fall" has really hit me, I've happily tossed aside the salads and berries and have fully embraced squashes, apples and spices.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is my favourite time of year.  

So back to the pumpkin was a gorgeous trifle (not one of my favourite desserts) made with pumpkin cake and piled high with custard and was a vision.  Since that moment I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I did a few searches on line and have only seen pumpkin trifles made with pumpkin flavoured custard (actually jell-o pudding) so I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with a few ideas.  

I've been inspired by these jam jar trifles over on Frances Quinn (the winner of Great British Bake Off)'s website.  Individual portion trifles topped with crunchy biscuits and crushed nuts...they sound (and look) heavenly.  These are destined to be my Christmas Dessert.  They have to be...they easily replace the pumpkin pie with the pumpkin cake element and they have cream and custard and biscuits and I am pretty sure they are going to be awesome...

So over the past week I have been experimenting.  

I've adapted my banana bread recipe to make a spicy butternut squash cake.  I figured roasted mashed squash was about the same consistency as mashed banana...right? So out went the banana, in went some mashed roasted squash (squished in a sieve first to get rid of the extra moisture) and then I added ginger, cinnamon and all spice to the flour mix.  It baked really nicely, is slightly denser than the banana bread usually is, but it TASTES ammmmaaazing.  

Cake Layer...CHECK 
Custard Layer....will be using Ambrosia Devon Custard (I'm not making it when all I want it thick creamy custard) 
Cream Layer...easy peasy 
Jam progress...I'm thinking stewed apples with spices 
Topping... I've changed up my gingerbread biscuit recipe using light brown sugar and some added spices.  

My tummy is grumbling just thinking about it...sigh.  I spend enough time daydreaming about it.  

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Peanut butter cups and a little pumpkin

I love peanut butter... FACT.  In fact I not only LOVE peanut butter I have become a bit of a peanut butter snob.  It is sad, it is horrible, but it is the disgusting truth.  I can't help myself, and every time I open my big fat peanut buttery mouth to spout off why I prefer smooth over crunchy and KRAFT above all other brands I feel a small part of me cringe.  I love it so much, but I rarely bake with it.  Mostly because peanut butter is pretty expensive here in the UK, and also because the jars are so darn dinky.  Seriously, it is near impossible to find anything larger than 500grams...I just can't bring myself to spend money on buying multiple jars of peanut butter to make cookies, or brownies or whatever.  Actually, when I think about it I am a little bit of a peanut butter hoarder.  My parents bring jars of Kraft over when they come a visit and I squirrel it away, rationing out each jar and slyly watching David out of the corner of my eye when he slathers it on his toast...tut tut.  

Anyway, I suppose MOTHERHOOD has softened me and I am more willing to share and indulge and...well...use my luscious, creamy, oh so delicious peanut butter to make something other than peanut butter and banana sandwiches and when Sue over at The View From Great Island shared a link on her facebook page for Homemade Peanut Butter Cups from the gorgeous Food52 I couldn't resist going out to the shops to buy milk chocolate and having a go.  

Reese Peanut Butter Cups are one of my all time favourite chocolate treats.  They are the one treat I would trade any amount of halloween candy for...they are my ultimate.  And now that I have tried making my own at home, I know that I can easily satisfy the cravings that always seem to appear at this time of year. 

I only made half the recipe (I wasn't about to sacrifice A CUP of my cherished Kraft PB) and it really did make plenty.  I used Kraft Smooth peanut butter and didn't add the extra salt suggested...oh and I used milk chocolate to make them as close to the real deal as possible.  BUT I would totally suggest making them with dark chocolate and the added salt flaked on top for a more adult treat...totally decadent! 

Happy Halloween xx

Monday, 14 October 2013

Butternut Squash Tart for Thanksgiving

We were invited to a proper Canadian Thanksgiving feast this year ... some folks we met through our antenatal classes have had a Canadian friend visiting over the last week and she wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving ... and they invited us along.  I offered to bring the pumpkin pie (any excuse).  Unfortunately, life with a little monster means that sometimes plans have to be cancelled at the last minute.  After 2 very busy social days Lyra found it very difficult to nap at all yesterday morning and only finally closed her eyes after much protest 20 mins before we were supposed to leave the house for the party.  I could't face waking her up and getting ready and then walking to our friends' house ... so I had to cancel.  It was sad, but it is part of having a new-ish baby.  They understood ... 

And ... as they pointed out ... even though I was missing out on the turkey and trimmings at least I could still have pie! Thank goodness for that! I love pumpkin pie, I love the texture, I love the spices, I love the mountain of whipped cream plopped on top ... I love it all and while tinned pumpkin is becoming easier to find here in Edinburgh I still prefer to make it with butternut squash.  The flavour is slightly mellower, I think ... plus it is so easy (ok, not as easy as opening a tin...but still pretty easy).  

I like to buy a squash that is just over 1kg, I cut it in half length wise, scoop out the seeds, place it cut side down on a roasting tray and then roast untill super soft.  Then all I do is use a fork to scrape the flesh out of one half, mash it up a bit and let it cool while I get the rest of the filling/tart shell ready. 

I use a 2cm deep flan ring with a loose bottom and find that the flesh from half a squash is enough (it usually measures just over a cup of mashed squash).  It might not be a traditional pie plate, but I like the daintiness of the fluted edge when it comes out of the tin.  Yesterday I used shop bought pastry (did you read the bit about the new baby?) to make everything a bit easier, and it was.  

While the squash is cooling and the tart base is blind baking I mixed up 2 medium eggs, 50g of light brown sugar, 100ml evaporated milk, 60ml maple syrup (or golden), and some spices: 3/4tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp all spice, 1/4 tsp ginger, and a good grating of nutmeg...oh and pinch of salt.  Once the tart base was ready I blended the squash in with the rest of the filling, poured it into the base, topped with pastry maple leaves and baked at 150 for about 45 mins (until set).  

It really is so so so easy.  I've mashed up the other half of the squash and put it in the freezer for Christmas (if I can wait that long).  

Gobble Gobble Gobble