In my mind, one of the best uses of squash is cake.
And I love the one in the Gjelina cookbook.
It's made with kabocha, a dense, sweet winter squash.
You bake, squeeze and hang the puree overnight
which yields a beautifully textured batter and a near perfect crumb.
That's matched with Travis's velvety olive glaze (olive oil glaze?! amazing!)
and crunchy toasted pepitas and cocoa nibs.
Find the recipe below and the book in our shop.
Reprinted with permission from the book, Gjelina by Travis Lett. Chronicle Books, 2015.
One 1-lb [455-g] piece of kabocha squash, seeded
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, plus 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp [255 ml]
1 1/2 cups [180 g] all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 cups [265 g] granulated sugar
8 oz [230 g] bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 Tbsp pepitas
OLIVE OIL GLAZE
1 1/4 cups [150 g] confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp hot water, plus more as needed
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp crushed cacao nibs
Preheat the oven to 425˚F [220˚C]. On a baking sheet, drizzle the squash with olive oil, turn the piece cut side down, and cook until very soft and beginning to caramelize around the edges, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scrape out the squash flesh and transfer to the food processor. Pulse until smooth.
In a large piece of cheesecloth, wrap the puréed squash in a tight bundle. Put in a colander set over a bowl and let drain at least 4 hours, or up to overnight. Squeeze by twisting the cheesecloth to remove any excess water. Unwrap the drained squash and measure out 1 cup [225 g]. (Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, saving for another use).
Preheat over to 325˚F [165˚C]. Butter a 9-by-5-in [23-by-12-cm] loaf pan. (I used a 8-by-3 1/2-in straight sided loaf pan and 2 5-in savarin moulds.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, olive oil, squash purée, and eggs. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the squash mixture. Whisk until just combined. Stir the chocolate into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until browned on the top and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 75-90 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert the cake from the pan and let cool on the rack for another 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate.
In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, gently toast the pepitas just until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool.
To make the glaze:
In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar with the 2 Tbsp hot water until you have a thick glaze. Add more confectioners' sugar or water as needed to create a smooth glaze with the viscosity of honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly.
Pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Sprinkle with the cacao nibs and pepitas and let the glaze set completely before serving, about 1 hour.