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butternut squash

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Mini Cakes

YAY!! These cakes were voted on to FoodBuzz Top 9 on 13 Jan 2009!!!! :))))

butternut squash & apple cake

Good Morning everyone! Ok, I know it's afternoon even in this part of the world but hey, it's still morning on the West Coast! So, I am covered. Anyway, I consider morning as the few hours that follow my waking up, irrespective of when that falls in the traditional day cycle. hehe..

Ah well, I blame the cold for this out-of-the-box thinking ;-). NYC is at its coldest, of the last five years I have been here, and it really makes it more appealing to stay tucked in warm and cozy. Then, once up, it's time to browse my favorite food blogs and drool over the photos, learn of a new recipe that needs to be tried out very soonly and then perhaps actually getting around making it. Besides, I have had a lot of catching up to do on blog reading since my vacation days.


So, when I came across Meeta's call to make something of Winter Vegetables and Fruit for her Monthly Mingle, I was super thrilled. You see, I had made mini cakes with squash and apples sometime back and had not found the opportunity to post about them. And here was the perfect time to talk about them. This month's mingle is being hosted by Sudeshna of Cook Like A Bong.

apple & squash cake

And what a close call?! Just a day before the doors closed! I can just hear them slowly closing and me just about wiggling through like in the movies. ok, yes yes, hyper active imagination and all, I know .. :)

Ok, so without further ado, let me introduce my Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Mini Cakes. Why mini-cakes? Well, I went to the baking supply store and saw these cute 3 inch shallow paper molds and just had to use them! :) And, the squash because I like the sweetness that roasting brings out of it and thought it would add great flavor and moisture to the cake itself.

butternut squash and apple cake



Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Mini Cakes

(makes about five 3-inch cakes)

1 small butter nut squash, peeled and diced, about 1-1/2 cups
1 golden delicious apple, peeled and diced + a few thinly sliced to arrange on top
1 cup all purpose flour
6 T melted butter
2 eggs
1 T cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar + 2 T for roasting the squash
4 T milk
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Toss the diced squash in 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and roast for 20-30 minutes until caramelised. Remove the squash and keep the oven on.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda) together. Add the butter, milk, sugar and eggs and whip to a smooth batter. Fold in the roasted squash and apples into the batter.

Pour into buttered molds and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Oil tarts are in!


Yes, you read it right! Not butter.... oil. When I first came across the recipe for a tart shell with oil instead of butter on Passionate about baking, I was instantly inspired to make it! I have long wondered if oil could create that wonderful flakiness that is most loved about a butter crust. After all, the Indian paratha has a lovely flaky texture and is made with oil or ghee. So, armed with a recipe to help me out with the measures, I was ready to test my hypothesis .

Recently, a friend of ours introduced us to a small farmers' market in midtown Manhattan (52nd street between 8th and 9th avenues). Bang in the center of prime real estate, it carried fresh produce at admirably reasonable prices. When I found a butternut squash that was perfectly sized for two, I was sold!

As soon as I saw the squash, I decided to make roasted butternut squash tart with the new healthy version for the crust. That crust experiment unfortunately, did not go as well as I expected. As I followed the recipe, I felt that the dough was a bit dry and tough and it stayed that way after being baked as well. The tart filling was moist but the crust was way too hard. But, I did not give up. I decided to give the oil tart another chance, this time, with some modifications.

For take #2, I decided to make rosemary tart with a layered filling of ricotta, marinara and zucchini, like a lasagna. I made the crust with minced fresh rosemary. I also upped the amount of water and substituted half the olive oil with canola oil. The result was much better than the previous time.

The crust was soft, supple, light yet flavorful. But, it did not turn out flaky! A butter crust definitely has a better texture and arguably a richer flavor. However, I liked the oil crust quite a bit. It is a pretty good, much healthier version, which, is a whole lot easier to work with (especially with no constraint to work quickly to prevent the butter from melting!).


Oil Tart Crust
adapted from
here

1-3/4 cup spelt wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced rosemary
1/2 cup + 2T ice cold water (I did this more on a add as you go basis. So it could be a bit more or less)
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup canola oil
2 tsp oil

Sift together flour, salt, pepper and rosemary. Add the oil and mix it in with a fork. Add water slowly, mixing it in and kneading the dough until it comes together into a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the out into a circle large enough to fit your tart pan. Transfer the dough carefully into the prepared pan and line it without stretching. Trim off the excess dough with the rolling pin. Refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes.

Blind bake the crust in oven preheated to 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and continue baking for five more minutes. Dial down the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill the tart with filling of choice (suggested recipes below). Return to oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the tart is fully cooked. If using mozzarella on top, reserve the cheese until the last 7 minutes, then sprinkle over and cook until the cheese is melted.

Remove the tart from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the top with parmesan, chives or other garnish and serve.

Roasted Butternut Squash Tart

1 oil tart crust blind baked
1-1/4 cup homemade (or store bought) marinara sauce
1 cup roasted butternut squash dices
3/4 cup grated fresh mozzarella cheese
2 tsp chopped chives or scallions for garnish

Spread half the marinara sauce at the bottom of the tart shell. Top the layer with the roasted butternut squash pieces and then a half cup of grated mozzarella. Spread another layer of marinara sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tart in the last 7 minutes and finish baking. Garnish with chives/scallions and serve.


Zucchini Lasagna Tart
adapted from
101 cookbooks

1 oil tart baked as above
1 medium zucchini thinly sliced
1-1/4 cups marinara sauce
1-1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 T grated parmesan cheese

Spread half the ricotta cheese on the bottom of the tart. Then, spread a third of the sauce over it. Line the zucchini slices around the tart in an overlapping fashion.

Repeat the cheese, sauce and zucchini layers. Top of with the remaining sauce and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until tart is fully cooked.

Let tart rest for 5 minutes, garnish with grated parmesan and serve.
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