Butternut Squash Pound Cake with Black Pepper and Parmesan

Butternut squash

Butternut squash is rarely used in baked goods or for an entertaining starter, but it takes center stage in food writer Chadwick Boyd’s savory pound cake, the perfect addition to your wine and cheese board. Long, charred pieces of roasted squash are embedded within the top of this dense yet moist bread.

Blending a bit of cornmeal with black pepper, fragrant rosemary, and salty Parmesan brings out the wonderful richness of the squash, and you won’t miss the sugar. Sweet potatoes, large carrots, and other squash varietals, like delicata or acorn, would work fantastically well with this bread, too. Get creative with produce and have some fun!

Butternut Squash Loaf
Makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 peeled butternut squash (453 grams)
  • ⅔ cup (149 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (14 grams) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons (63 grams) honey, divided
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) kosher salt, plus more for seasoning squash
  • 5 large eggs (250 grams), room temperature
  • 2¼ cups (225 grams) cake flour
  • 1 cup (100 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (12.5 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup (38 grams) cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon (2 grams) finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2½ teaspoons (5 grams) ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) baking powder
  • ½ cup (120 grams) whole milk
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with baking spray with flour, and line with parchment paper.
  2. Using a heavy-duty chef’s knife, slice squash in half lengthwise. Place squash cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon (14 grams) oil and 1 tablespoon (21 grams) honey. Drizzle over squash. (Make sure the oil and honey are fully mixed before drizzling over the squash. The honey can bubble up and slightly burn while roasting.) Season with salt.
  4. Roast until soft and tops and edges are slightly charred, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).
  5. Slice each squash in half lengthwise. Place one squash piece in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mash with a fork to break it up into pieces. Add eggs, remaining ⅔ cup (149 grams) oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons (42 grams) honey; beat at medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 cup (100 grams) cheese, cornmeal, chopped rosemary, pepper, baking powder, and remaining 2 teaspoons (6 grams) salt. Gradually add flour mixture to squash mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.
  7. Lay 1 squash piece in bottom of prepared pan. Pour batter over top. Nestle remaining 2 squash pieces side by side in top of batter (just enough so it peeks through). Dust with remaining 2 tablespoons (12.5 grams) cheese, and top with rosemary sprigs.
  8. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes, covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.


Chadwick likes to slather Whipped Parmesan and Black Pepper Butter on this cake. To make, place ½ cup (113 grams) room temperature butter in a small bowl, and add 3 to 4 tablespoons (19 to 25 grams) grated Parmesan, and 1 teaspoon (2 grams) pepper. Whip with a handheld mixer until fluffy.



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