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Butternut Squash Spice Cake

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Emma Star Jensen

Total time 2 hrs, 30 mins

Serves 10 to 12

Watch out, carrot cake. An intriguing mix of spices, plus coconut sugar for subtle sweetness, put this butternut squash cake over the top. (And did we mention the bourbon?) You'll need 3 round cake pans (8 in. each).


  • CAKE
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or sifted regular whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise (grind in a clean coffee grinder) or ground allspice
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar* or packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 2 3/4 cups coarsely shredded butternut squash
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 12 ounces (1 1/2 large pkgs.) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup toasted* unsweetened flaked (also called shaved) coconut

Nutrition Information

  • calories 777
  • caloriesfromfat 52 %
  • protein 7 g
  • fat 46 g
  • satfat 18 g
  • carbohydrate 88 g
  • fiber 3.3 g
  • sodium 570 mg
  • cholesterol 98 mg

How to Make It

  1. Make cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 3 round cake pans (8 in. each). Line each with a circle of parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Mix cake flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise in a large bowl; set aside.

  3. In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat oil, eggs, coconut sugar, yogurt, orange juice, bourbon, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed to blend, then on medium speed until smooth, scraping inside of bowl twice. Stir in orange zest and crystallized ginger, then squash.

  4. Divide batter among lined pans and spread level. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes.

  5. Turn cakes onto racks, remove parch­ment, and let cool completely, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  6. Make frosting: In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese until very smooth. Add powdered sugar, bourbon, cardamom, salt, cinnamon, and ginger; beat on low speed to blend, then on high speed until smooth and fluffy, scraping inside of bowl once or twice.

  7. Set a cake layer rounded side down on a platter; spread top of it with 3/4 cup frosting. Repeat with second layer. Set top layer in place, rounded side up. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Press coconut into sides, a small handful at a time.

  8. *Find coconut palm sugar in the baking aisle of well-stocked grocery stores. Toast coconut on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350° oven until light golden, stirring once, 4 to 5 minutes.

  9. Make ahead: Up to 1 day, chilled and loosely wrapped with plastic wrap.