Here’s Suzanne Goin’s take on pumpkin cake. It doesn’t actually have any pumpkin in it, but rather uses kabocha. (You can use butternut squash as well, if you can’t find kabocha.) The maple ice cream and pecan streusel make it an irresistible dessert any time of the year.
You can roast the squash and make the streusel a day ahead of time. Be sure to drain the squash after itʼs roasted and just before using it; it often continues to give off water. If you really had your heart set on pumpkin though, you can substitute canned pumpkin for the squash in this recipe as well.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet, and toast them for 8-10 minutes, until they darken slightly and smell nutty. When the nuts have cooled, chop them coarsely. Toss the nuts with the oil and salt.
In a food processor, pulse the butter, sugars, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg until just combined. Remove to a bowl, stir in the salted pecans, and chill until ready to use.
In a saucepot, bring the milk and cream to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and cover.
Whisk the egg yolks and maple sugar together in a bowl. Whisk a few tablespoons of the warm cream mixture into the yolks to temper them. Slowly, add another ¼ cup or so of the warm cream, whisking continuously. At this point, you can add the rest of the cream mixture in a slow steady stream, whisking all the time.
Pour the mixture back into the pot, and return it to the stove. Cook the custard over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently and using a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan. The custard will thicken, and when itʼs done, it will coat the back of the spatula.
Strain the mixture, stir in the maple syrup, and chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturerʼs instructions.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the squash on a baking sheet, cut side up. (Donʼt remove the seeds yet; they give extra flavor.) Cover with foil, and roast about 1 hour, until very tender. Let cool 10 minutes, then scoop out the seeds and discard them. Purée the warm squash through a ricer or food mill and measure out 1 ½ cups.
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan. Brush the bottom of the pan with a little butter and then line it with the paper. Place the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and use a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. To make sure not to lose any of the seeds, run your vanilla-coated knife through the butter (donʼt use your fingers, because the seeds will stick to them). Add the vanilla pod to the pan, and cook the butter over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the butter browns and smells nutty. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a large bowl. Add the salt. Make a well in the center. In another large bowl, whisk the reserved 1 ½ cups squash purée, milk, ¼ cup of the cream, eggs, and honey to combine. Pour the liquid into the well in the dry ingredients, and whisk until incorporated. Stir in the brown butter, scraping with a rubber spatula to make sure you get all the brown bits from the pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the cake from the oven and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top. Bake the cake another 45 minutes, until the topping is crisp and the cake has set. (The center of the cake will still be somewhat soft and wonʼt pass the toothpick test.) Cool the cake on a rack for at least 15 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining cream to soft peaks. Cut 6 slices from the cake and serve with scoops of maple ice cream and dollops of whipped cream.