Baking Claire Saffitz’s Kabocha Turmeric Tea Cake

Hi everyone!  

I’m back to tackle the 4th recipe from Claire Saffitz’s book, “Dessert Person”: Kabocha Turmeric Tea Cake.

This is another simple recipe that can be made any time of year.  Unlike the last recipe, this one is dairy-free.  We’re back to making loaf cakes again, but this one is a bit more involved than the others.  This recipe involves kabocha squash, which can be difficult to find.  I couldn’t find mine at Wegmans so I ended up going to Whole Foods.  Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter pumpkin.  It’s round and green with orange flesh and tastes like a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato.

To cook the squash, cover a sheet pan with some tinfoil and poke holes around the exterior of the squash.  

Bake it whole for around 90 minutes.  When you can easily pierce it with a fork, it’s done!

Necessary equipment includes a digital food scale, 4½ by 8½ in. loaf pan, whisk, hand-mixer, rubber spatula, offset spatula, toothpicks, cooling rack, sheet pan, tinfoil, and parchment paper.

And here are all the ingredients.

You will need…

  • coconut oil for the pan
  • 40g hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 200g all-purpose flour
  • 6g baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 2 large eggs @ room temp
  • 35g maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g sugar
  • 110g liquified coconut oil
  • 232g cooked kabocha squash

Before getting started, you need to toast your pumpkin seeds.  Clean about a ¼ cup of the pumpkin seeds from the cooked kabocha squash and dry them before laying them out on a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Bake them at 350 degrees for 2 to 3 minutes, shake the pan, and bake again for another 2 to 3 minutes.  They should be golden, puffed, and started to pop.

Okay, time to prepare the pan.  Spray it with your coconut oil on all sides and then line the bottom and longer sides with parchment paper.  Make sure to leave a little bit of overhang on either side.

In a large bowl, pour in your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, turmeric, salt, and garam masala).  Whisk and set aside.

In the other bowl, pour in your eggs and whisk to break up the yolks and whites.  Then, pour in the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and 150g of the sugar (save the rest of it for later).  Whisk again until the mixture is nice and smooth.  

Then, while whisking, slowly pour in the coconut oil until it’s fully incorporated.  Lastly, add in the kabocha squash and whisk until nice and smooth.

Using your hands, make a well in the dry mixture and slowly pour in the wet mixture.  Whisk until you have a smooth, homogenous batter.  Add the pumpkin seeds and fold them in with a rubber spatula.

Using the spatula, scrape your mixture into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top.  Sprinkle the remaining sugar and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes, and then, using the offset spatula, cut down on the inner edges of the pan.  Use the parchment paper to lift the cake out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before testing.

Time to test!  Kabocha squash is sweeter than regular pumpkin, but I think the spices balanced this one out.  This was the fanciest pumpkin bread I’ve ever made.  I usually use canned pumpkin, so it was fun (but a lot more work) to roast the squash, scoop out the insides, and clean and dry the seeds before toasting.  This cake has a very complex flavor and we really enjoyed it.  I think we’d prefer it without the seeds though, or at least on top so you know what you’re expecting.

If you made this recipe, let me know your thoughts in the comments!  I’ll be back next time, with another recipe from Dessert Person.

Bon Appétit!


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