Carnival Cake (Vegan!)

IMG_20151115_223114As I already explained in Part I of Squash Week, this is a big freakin’ deal in our household. It’s like when the fair comes to town, except that instead of feeling all gross inside after gorging on funnel cake and corn dogs, we feel all warm and gooey inside after gorging on one of the world’s healthiest foods.

IMG_MyBerkeleyBowl_carnivalcakeFor Part II of Squash Week, and in honor of the fair, I chose this fun, bespeckled squash with the apt name: Carnival Squash. I realize that it’s kind of a cop-out to pretend that I created a recipe for an exotic produce item like Carnival Cake when, really, you could substitute any winter squash. But…well actually, I don’t have a but. I just have some delicious cake in front of me. So there.IMG_MyBerkeleyBowl_carnivalcakeDid I mention this cake is vegan? And whole wheat? I have served this at many gatherings to unknowing carnivores and lacto-ovo vegetarians, and always leave with a tube pan full of crumbs.IMG_MyBerkeleyBowl_carnivalcakeI’ll keep this cozy and sweet, since that’s how this cake tastes. If you’d like more background on winter squash or on Squash Week, see the previous post.IMG_MyBerkeleyBowl_carnivalcake

Carnival Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: medium
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IMG_MyBerkeleyBowl_carnivalcake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Carnival Squash puree* (or substitute any winter squash puree)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
  • Toppings: 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds and 2 Tablespoons demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a bowl. In a separate, large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except for the toppings) and whisk until smooth. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan and top with the pumpkin seeds and demerara sugar. Bake for 60 minutes. Allow to cool before removing the outer part of the tube cake pan and serving.

* To make the Carnival squash puree: slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, place cut-side down in a baking dish and add about 1/2 inch of water. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30-50 minutes or until the squash is very soft when you pierce it with a fork. Scoop out the cooked squash with a spoon and mash with a fork or blend in a food processor until you have a smooth puree.

29 thoughts on “Carnival Cake (Vegan!)

  1. J.Taylor says:

    Hi Laura, what do you think about substituting chickpea flour for the whole wheat flour? Or another natural alternative to make this gluten free for a friend.. ? Any good ideas? Thanks in advance, love this cake :))

    • Laura McLively says:

      Hi Jilli! How thoughtful of you to make this for a GF friend. I would probably go with a GF baking flour, like Bob’s Red Mill. Otherwise the texture can get a bit iffy with something like this cake. I’d be worried that chickpea flour might be a bit dense/gummy, but if you try it let me know how it turns out!

      • J.Taylor says:

        Hi Laura, I tried the carnival cake recipe yesterday with gluten free flour and I wanted to report back the results… which were not as good as with regular and whole wheat flour. Imo. The cake did not come out as moist and soft/ crumbly as the original version, but instead was a bit spongy and funky in texture. Still was delicious, and enjoyed by all, but just not quite the same! The whole wheat flour seems an important taste which “makes” this cake work.. with the squash and apple sauce and the rest. Without it, something is missing. Also it didn’t have that lovely colour as with the whole wheat flour. So just wanted to let you and other readers know that… from my experience at least. Also I used butternut squash instead of pumpkin this time (since we don’t have carnival squash here) and that tasted good to me, a good substitute. That wouldn’t change the texture though I wouldn’t think.. it was the flour. Anyways, happy cooking :0)

        And if anyone is wondering, here is the flour I used:
        “Edmonds Sure to Rise Gluten Free Flour” : Starch (maize, tapioca), rice flour, vegetable gums (464, 415)
        (perhaps it was the tapioca which made it a funky texture? Maybe a different flour would be better..)

      • Laura McLively says:

        Thanks so much for the really helpful feedback Jilli! Sounds like it’s best to keep this cake a vegan, gluten-full recipe rather than gluten-free!

  2. J.Taylor says:

    I made this cake last week for a Christmas Potluck and it was a true success!! I was pleasantly surprised by this (have not had good luck making vegan baked goods in the past) and it was really easy to make as well. I had to bake mine for about 1 hour, 15min but my oven is a bit unpredictable. I also added about twice the cranberries as is called for in the recipe, and extra orange peel, which turned out yummy. I made some ridiculously simple apple sauce as well by just steaming a few chopped up braeburn apples in a few tablespoons of water and some lemon juice, no sugar. And I used pumpkin instead of carnival squash since I am in the southern hemisphere and it’s not squash season just yet! I would definitely bake this cake again! 😀

    • Laura McLively says:

      Thanks for the great feedback Jilli! I, too, have decided to add more cranberries next time because I love the most little pockets of tanginess!

  3. J.Taylor says:

    Hmmm I’m usually very skeptical of vegan cakes! BUT I do have a vegan christmas potluck to attend later this week and so this could be just the ticket… 😉 It does look scrummy! 😀

    Questions: Is there anything I could substitute for the apple sauce? we don’t have it available here! Or I suppose I could try to make some but have never done this.. 2. What goes in “pumpkin pie spice”? I’m guessing cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, anise, that sorta thing? Only in America i tell ya… gotta love it! 3. In case I can’t find squash (wrong time of year here and my garden squash are not producing yet) then how would this be with pumpkin? Happy Autumn cooking to you!!

    • Laura McLively says:

      Hey Jilli, I dare you to make it and resist eating it all– it’s so most and yummy. To answer your questions, you could just make some apple sauce– just boil or microwave some peeled apples and blend then with a little water! As for pumpkin, my original recipe actually used pumpkin puree so that would be perfect! And pumpkin pie spice… You’re right, so “American convenience!” I like keeping my recipe list as short as possible but yes, you could use 1tsp each of cinnamon and ginger and a 1/2 tsp of clove and nutmeg with a dash of orange zest. BTW, if you like fresh cranberries, I’d throw in even more– I like the moist tartness they impart!

    • Laura McLively says:

      Hey Jilli, I dare you to make it and resist eating it all– it’s so most and yummy. To answer your questions, you could just make some apple sauce– just boil or microwave some peeled apples and blend then with a little water! As for pumpkin, my original recipe actually used pumpkin puree so that would be perfect! And pumpkin pie spice… You’re right, so “American convenience!” I like keeping my recipe list as short as possible so that was a cop-out, but just use 1tsp each of cinnamon and ginger and a 1/2 tsp of clove and nutmeg with a dash of orange zest. BTW, if you like fresh cranberries, I’d throw in even more– I like the moist tartness they impart!

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