I am a huge fan of buttermilk! It all started with a fantastic buttermilk pancake recipe that I still make to this day from one of my mom’s cookbooks. (Said book is a Betty Crocker from the 1950’s with ink drawings…super retro!) Back then I didn’t try to analyze why they tasted so good, I only knew that pancakes with buttermilk were WAY better than ones without…

But I did start trying every recipe that called for buttermilk, especially when desserts were involved. It was kind of my secret weapon – it made everything taste good! I have since discovered the joy of things like buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk fried chicken, buttermilk salad dressing, buttermilk marinades, the list goes on and on… In other words, I am pretty much never without it.

If you love to bake you probably have some on hand right now too! Who can argue with its tangy flavor, sort of a cross between melted butter and sour cream. And even though it is thick and creamy, it is low in fat. Enough said.

Another favorite baking trick of mine is to take a whole cake and break it down into manageable tidbits. Then it becomes not such a commitment… Then it becomes easier to give a bit of it away… Then its dietary intimidation is reduced down to a few bites of fun! And who doesn’t want a few bites of fun?

These little buttermilk cakes are super yummy and the icing is good on just about anything! (And if you are feeling daring, a bundt pan will work just as well…)

Gather Up:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups flour
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup buttermilk
2 cups cooked butternut squash puree

For the Icing:
2 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons buttermilk, approximately
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup crystallized ginger, ground to dust

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour muffin pans for 12 cakes.

In a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the oil and beat another 15 seconds.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.

Add the vinegar and vanilla and mix until just combined.

Add half of the flour, the baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg, mixing on low until just combined.

Add half of the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk.

Fold the squash into the batter and spoon into muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 20-30 minutes.

Cool in the pans for 15 minutes then turn onto cooling racks. When completely cool, prepare the icing.

To make the icing whisk the sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, nutmeg and salt until smooth, adding a little more sugar or a little more buttermilk to get an icing that is pourable but still quite thick.

Pour the icing back and forth in ribbons on the cakes. Sprinkle with a light dusting of ground crystallized ginger. Let the icing set about 45 minutes.

Recipe from Fine Cooking, December 2008