Leaves fell from trees,
painted in hues of saffron and ruby.
The crisp air chanted a lullaby,
and the wind whispered the tune.
A tiny baby boy was placed in his Mother's arms.
She stepped out into the Autumn air,
holding him close.
for the very first time.
Last weekend, we celebrated the fourth anniversary of the October day I became a Mother to a little boy. Andreas turned four, and we spent his day with family, in my parents' backyard. He ran around with his cousins, played soccer and opened his gifts. In the evening, while my parents, Toby and Lucía napped, he and I went for a walk. The sun was setting, casting a golden light on our view. I held his hand, as we walked through the neighborhood where all of my childhood memories took place. We went down to the creek that I used to play in with my brothers as a little girl. Salty tears streamed down my face as I thought about how grateful I am for him. For what October 16th means to me. I can't imagine a better ending to the fourth anniversary of his birth.
The party itself was simple, a few decorations I made and some of his favorite foods, which just happen to be in season right now. He requested that I bake a butternut squash cake and also wanted goat cheese, pistachios, apples, hummus and pita. So, that's what I served. A butternut squash cake with cream/goat cheese icing and hazelnuts, apple slices topped with a mixture of goat cheese and honey sprinkled with pistachios, sweet potato hummus and sprouted pita. Surprisingly, it was all enjoyed, even by the kids who aren't used to eating strange things. ;)
Especially the cake, considering there wasn't a single slice left. One of my brothers declared it the best cake he'd ever eaten, so I figured I'd better hurry and put the recipe up, while butternut is in season and readily available. It's moist, just sweet enough, kissed with a hint of spice and not believably - full of yellow squash.
If you don't have the time to steam or roast the squash, go ahead and use frozen or canned butternut (I don't recommend it, though.) The fresh butternut really adds to the cake, but in a pinch, the canned stuff will work. Also, if you don't want to make a 3 layer cake, you can make little cupcakes. This recipe makes quite a few, so you'll have plenty to give away to friends or family.
Butternut Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Hazelnuts
2 small butternut squash
2 cups agave
5 organic eggs
pinch of sea salt
1 - 1/4 cups olive oil
2 cups whole spelt flour
1 -3/4 cups unbleached or light spelt flour
4 heaping teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. sour cream
3 oz. chévre
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts
Begin by peeling both butternuts. Once you've peeled them, scoop out the seeds and cut them into chunks. Steam for about 25 minutes (or until tender). Transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy. Preheat your oven to 350 at this point. Take the squash purée (you should have a little more than 2.5 cups) and mix with the agave, eggs, olive oil, vanilla and pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and cinnamon. Once it's mixed well, slowly add in squash mixture until it's well incorporated, but be careful not to over mix it.
Divide among 3, 9-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper and greased. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely (about an hour and a half) before layering and icing.
To make the icing, use an electric mixer to whip the cream cheese, sour cream and chévre until it's very smooth. Add the vanilla and the agave, a tablespoon at a time, until your desired sweetness is reached. Refrigerate until you're ready to layer the cakes.
To toast the hazelnuts, place them in a pan on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Transfer them to a cutting board and coarsely chop them.
Layer the cakes with icing and top with chopped hazelnuts.