Claire Saffitz's Kabocha Turmeric Tea Cake

April 25, 2021
9 Ratings
Photo by Alex Lau
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Makes 1 standard loaf
Author Notes

I wanted a version of pumpkin bread that felt a bit more exciting, and kabocha was the answer. Here it's combined with turmeric and a bit of garam masala for an unexpectedly complex loaf cake. To cook the squash, I recommend roasting it whole. Poke a few holes through the leathery exterior and bake on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 425°F oven until a skewer slides easily into the flesh, about 90 minutes for a medium squash.

Reprinted from Dessert Person. Copyright © 2020 by Claire Saffitz. Photographs copyright © 2020 by Alex Lau. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House.Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (1.4 ounces/40 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (7 ounces/200 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (0.21 ounces/6 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala*
  • 2 large eggs (3.5 ounces/100 grams), at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (1.2 ounces/35 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (6.2 ounces/175 grams)
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (3.9ounces/110 grams), warmed slightly to liquefy**
  • 1 cup mashed cooked kabocha squash (8.2 ounces/232 grams)
  1. Preheat the oven and prepare the pan: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of the loaf pan with coconut oil. Line the bottom and two longer sides with a piece of parchment paper, leaving an overhang of an inch or two on each side, and set aside.
  2. Toast the pumpkin seeds: Spread the pumpkin seeds out on a small rimmed baking sheet and bake, shaking halfway through, until they’re golden, puffed, and starting to pop, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, turmeric, salt, and garam masala. Set aside.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients: In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs briefly to break up the yolks and whites, then add the maple syrup, vanilla, and ¾ cup of the sugar (5.3 oz / 150g) and whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Slowly stream in the coconut oil, whisking constantly, until fully incorporated. **** Whisk in the mashed kabocha squash until smooth (a few lumps are okay).
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry: Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the kabocha mixture. Whisk gently just until you have a smooth batter with no dry spots. Fold in the pumpkin seeds.
  6. Fill the pan and bake: Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until the top is risen and cracked and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes, then use a paring knife or small offset spatula to cut between the cake and the pan along the shorter sides. Use the parchment paper to lift out the loaf and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. DO AHEAD The cake, well wrapped and stored at room temperature, will keep up to 4 days.
  8. *Feel free to omit the garam masala if you can’t find it (or if you don’t care for the flavor) and use 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon as a replacement.
    ** Use refined coconut oil or vegetable oil if you don’t like the flavor of coconut.
    ***Substitute an equal amount of canned pumpkin for the kabocha to make this a zero-prep recipe. You can also use mashed roasted sweet potato.
    **** It’s okay if the coconut oil solidifies when it hits the eggs and sugar mixture, forming small lumps (this might happen if the eggs are still a bit cold). Any lumps will smooth out in the oven.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nadia Hassani
    Nadia Hassani
  • K.V.
  • Lizzy
  • Marie-Renée Duguay
    Marie-Renée Duguay
  • Abigail Thompson
    Abigail Thompson

10 Reviews

Nadia H. September 21, 2021
This is insanely good. I used red kuri squash, which is similar to kabocha but the skin is edible. One of the rare recipes where is used the full amount of sugar.
K.V. November 30, 2020
Having never baked with kabocha squash or turmeric, I was a little nervous about how this would turn out. Fear not, it's insanely, insanely good. Giving this five, shining stars!!
Emmie November 11, 2020
Loved this! Made it with a mixture of butternut, kabocha, and acorn squash that I'd roasted and frozen. It was a tad too sweet, but absolutely delicious. Might add some garam masala to the sugar topping next time. I checked it after 50 minutes and it was perfectly done.
Lizzy November 5, 2020
Delicious recipe! Made it gluten free with Bob's Red Mill GF flour and 1 tsp. ground flax seed hydrated with hot water to make a paste. Beautiful fall treat, not too sweet and great balance with turmeric.
Marie-Renée D. October 30, 2020
Love this recipe. I took the loaf to the office and it was gone in no time. Everyone loved it.
Mary October 27, 2020
This was really good! I was a little wary of the turmeric, having never had it in a dessert before, but I liked it. It was definitely turmeric-y so I imagine if you mistakenly added 12 teaspooons it would be inedible. The kabocha and garam masala spices were a nice change from your normal pumpkin bread.
leithplus4 October 23, 2020
Shoooooot! Just saw this! 12 teaspoons made no sense!! Just threw out my dry mix - and wasted all my tumeric :(
mstv October 21, 2020
TYPO! In the book it calls for 1 (one) teaspoon turmeric.
Abigail T. October 22, 2020
Omg thank you! I literally came to check the comments because I knew that had to be wrong! 😂
Mike G. October 23, 2020
I wish I had checked the comments 1st. Against my instincts I made it with all that turmeric. The texture and color was great- but the taste turmeric overload. 😉