Summertime

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…Ella Fitzgerald

squash

Today is the first day of summer, and here in Northern Nevada, we can feel it.  100 degrees in the shade and it will only get hotter as the days go by.

The heat doesn’t make me really want to bake, but I couldn’t fight the urge to welcome Summer with my Summer Squash/Chai Cupcakes.

A few years ago, we had a bumper crop of summer squash from our garden, and I was wracking my brain for new recipes to use it all.

Now most people have had chocolate zucchini cake and zucchini bread, but there aren’t a lot of bakery items made with summer squash.  But, this thin skinned, lightly flavored cruciferous vegetable lends itself to some very yummy desserts.

The first time I made Summer Squash cupcakes, I just adapted my basic cupcake recipe, and the result was good, but not great.  I knew it could be so much better.  So I went back to my recipes to see how to make it great.

I knew I needed to kick up the flavor a bit because the squash itself is such a not-imposing flavor.  I tried using cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice (both individually and together in different combinations).  Still not what I was wanting.

So I started thinking of exotic spices/flavors, and immediately hit upon Chai spice.  The amazing combination of cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and black pepper is the perfect compliment to the slightly sweet vegetable.

After more testing, I had a summer squash/chai cupcake that I liked, but didn’t love.  It was a good dense cake with a nice crumb, but just not the over the top moist cake that I was wanting.

So, I went through my other cake recipes and decided to see if my carrot cake recipe would adapt to this cake.  And guess what…it did.  Beautifully.  So with a couple of tweaks, I was able to create what has become one of my favorite cupcakes.

The thing that makes this cake recipe different from my others, is that I use oil instead of butter.  I am a “butter makes everything better” kind of girl, so having a recipe that doesn’t have butter is a rarity.  Also, this recipe is mixed in a single bowl, no mixer needed.

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I leave the skin on the squash, it is not fibrous, so no need to peel.  Just cut off the ends and grate 454 grams and set aside.

Combine 440 grams sugar, 320 grams all-purpose flour, 10 grams baking soda, 5 grams salt,  15 grams chai spice mix in a large mixing bowl.  Add 4 beaten eggs, 240 ml vegetable oil and 240 grams of crushed pineapple.  Stir to combine.  Add shredded squash and mix until just combined.

Use a portion scoop to scoop into lined cupcake pans and bake @350 for 16-18 minutes until tester comes out clean.

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Once the cupcakes are cool, ice them with your preference of frostings.  I prefer cream cheese icing, but if you prefer a simple buttercream, that works too.

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The shredded squash blends well into the cake and makes this cupcake amazingly moist and the chai compliments the light flavor of the vegetable.

Enjoy and stay cool .

 

 

 

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