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Alice Medrich's Buckwheat Squash Loaf with Cranberries

Buckwheat squash slice

Good morning, everyone! Ooh, this week is starting off well. The sun is shining, I'm about to turn a pound of butter and an equal amount of raisins into Stollen for the book, and I have a cake discovery for you, a wondrous, light, delicious cake discovery. I am so, so excited for you!

Friday evening was the first time in ages that I'd some time to myself in the kitchen. Hugo was asleep, Max was out with a friend, and I was finally - finally!!! - all on my own with nothing to do. I roasted a squash, I boiled broccoli rabe, I cooked fish for dinner. It was quiet, it was heaven. And when the squash was roasted and beaten to a purée, I set to making this cake. This wonderful, tender darling of a cake that I plan to make again today and then again mid-week, since that seems to be about the pace that we are consuming it at. (It is marvelous for breakfast.)

Alice Medrich's Buckwheat Squash Loaf

I first spotted the recipe on Megan's blog in early November. She got the recipe from Alice Medrich's newest book, Flavor Flours, a baking book that happens to be gluten-free but is really more focused on the tastes and textures that different flours bring to the table. The original recipe is made with buckwheat and rice flour, regular sugar, pumpkin purée and raisins (or currants). But when Megan made it, she swapped in dark brown sugar for the regular sugar, added chocolate chips instead of raisins and topped the loaf with pumpkin seeds. And when I saw the recipe, I knew instantly I'd fold in frozen cranberries instead of raisins or chocolate, use butternut squash purée instead of pumpkin, and leave off the pumpkin seeds, but keep Megan's brilliant muscovado sugar swap.

Without further ado, I'd like to present to you the newly-christened Buckwheat Squash Loaf with Cranberries.

(NB: No matter what it's called, I LOVE IT SO MUCH I CAN'T WRITE THIS POST FAST ENOUGH.)

Buckwheat squash loaf

If you are a fan of buckwheat flour - and you know who you are - then I practically guarantee that you'll love this cake. Its strange and stony flavor is one of my very favorites. I used a medium-grind buckwheat flour that I had in the pantry, which resulted in a cake that crunched ever-so-subtly in my mouth. But the cake crumb is so velvety and fine that it practically quivers. It's quite something. I pulled the cake out of the oven right before bedtime and let it cool in the pan overnight. Early Saturday morning, the first fat slices I cut for myself were just on the right side of damp. The dark brown sugar brings moisture and depth to the cake and those sour, brilliantly pink pockets of cranberry against the velvety, spicy crumb were exactly right.

I know these kinds of superlatives can be so annoying, but I just scrolled through all my posts from 2014 and must tell you that it is my favorite cake of the year. I love this cake. I love it so much. I hope you do too!

Buckwheat Squash Loaf with Cranberries
Makes one 9-inch loaf
Adapted from Alice Medrich's Flavor Flours

8 tablespoons (1 stick/115g) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (190g) muscovado (dark brown) sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (120g) white rice flour
1/3 cup (40g) buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (170g) squash puree
1/2 cup (55g) fresh cranberries

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. Combine the butter, sugar, and eggs in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until lighter in color, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, use a handheld mixer and beat for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the rice and buckwheat flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pumpkin puree and beat on low speed until smooth. Fold in the cranberries.

4. Bake the loaf for 45 -50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan for 30 minutes before using the parchment as a sling to unmold the cake and let cool completely on a rack. The cake keeps for several days on the counter, wrapped loosely in parchment or plastic wrap.

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