Saturday was the perfect fall day; beautiful weather, pumpkin carving, family fun and baking vegan butternut squash banana bars. I usually go for savory over sweet, but the cool air has me jonesing for spiced, sweet treats.
I snagged some inspiration from a trusted vegan food blogger, Nora Cooks, then proceeded to twist the recipe to suit my pantry and the results were delicious. You know how I feel about following recipes, but Nora whips up some dynamite dishes. Read ‘em, eat ‘em and weep.
These vegan butternut squash banana bars are thin, not too sweet and they taste like autumn. Cinnamon, nutmeg and squash – oh my! A perfect toddler treat.
I like to weigh ingredients when I mess around with recipes because measuring cups can deceive you. For instance, a packed cup of flour weighs more than flour spooned into a cup. When in doubt, weigh it out. A digital kitchen scale can be your best friend.
Nora used a jelly roll pan. I had to google that. I am experienced in the kitchen and I had no idea what a jelly roll pan was. Opportunities to learn something new present themselves every day! A jelly roll pan is a shorter baking sheet with raised edges. I happened to have one, but you can use whatever is in your kitchen. If your pan is bigger, bake for less time. If it is smaller, bake longer.
I had leftover squash puree in the refrigerator and I thought it would make a great substitute for pumpkin in a cake, but I didn’t know how much I had on hand. Was it the equivalent of a can of pumpkin? Nope! I knew because it weighed 9.3oz and a can is usually 15oz. So I thought, what do I have that could produce a similar texture to pureed pumpkin and taste delicious in a dessert? Banana. Bananas mash-up like a dream and are naturally sweet. I added enough banana to make 15oz and conveniently it turned out to be 1.5 bananas.
You could use all butternut squash, or pumpkin, or try going half squash and half banana. Go bananas! I’m terribly sorry, but I couldn’t help myself.
Then I wondered, if the banana is adding sweetness, can I use less sugar? Well I did and it turned out great. I also decided to use half whole wheat and half regular all-purpose flour. This was a gamble because whole wheat flour can leave you with a drier cake if you don’t use more liquid, but I really liked the texture. The cake bars held up in the face of toddlers manhandling them.
When it was time to make the frosting, I almost threw in the towel because I didn’t have enough powdered sugar. I knew it just by looking at the jar in my pantry. But, I’m not a quitter. So, I weighed the powdered sugar. I did did some math (division) and reduced the original recipe quantities to work with what I had available. It was the perfect amount of frosting. If you have a sweet tooth, make more, but this was great for the kids.
The cake batter:
The frosting method:
What fall festive foods are you craving?