Butternut, chestnut & lentil cake

Butternut, chestnut & lentil cake

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(5 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins - 45 mins Cook: 1 hr, 45 mins

A challenge

Serves 8

This stunning cake is a modern take on the classic nut roast, and the ideal vegan centrepiece, accompanied by all the usual trimmings

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Healthy
  • Vegan

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal316
  • fat11g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs42g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre7g
  • protein8g
  • salt0.3g


  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
    Sunflower oil

    Sunflower oil

    Sunflower oil is made from pressing sunflower seeds and extracting the oil. It's usually…

  • 3 onions, chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 15g pack of sage, 12 leaves reserved, rest finely chopped



    Popular in both Italian and British cookery, sage has long, grey-green leaves with a slightly…

  • 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped, plus a few springs to serve



    Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds or linseeds (flaxseeds)
  • 2 x 200g packs cooked chestnuts



    'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...' that kitsch old Nat King Cole song perfectly…

  • 2 x 400g cans brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 200g wholemeal vegan breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
    Rapeseed oil

    Rapeseed oil

    If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has…


  1. First, use a veg peeler to peel the butternut squash and heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Then using, a large, sharp knife cut a few 1cm thick ring-slices from the bulbous end, and a few small solid slices from the top end. Set aside the slices, and dice the rest into 1-2cm chunks. Toss the chunks with 1 tbsp of the sunflower oil on a baking parchment-lined tray and roast for 20-30 mins until tender and golden.

  2. Meanwhile prepare the tin. It’s worth taking some time to do this, as it’ll be the top of your cake in the end – and the bit you want to look impressive! Line the base of a deep, round, 25cm tin with a sheet of baking parchment. Brush the new base and sides with some oil, then start to arrange the rings in the base. You want to get in as many as you can, overlapping a bit like the Olympic rings. Snuggle in as many flat as you can, then sit your overlapping ones on top, cutting out bits of the squash, so they’ll also sit flat too. Any leftover trimmings, put in a microwave-proof bowl with a splash of water, cover with cling film and microwave on High at 2 min intervals until tender – around 5-6 minutes.

  3. In a separate pan, soften the onion in the last 2 tbsp of sunflower oil, over a very low heat so it doesn’t brown. Stir in the chopped sage, half the rosemary, and the garlic and mace, and cook for another few mins until fragrant. Mix the ground chia seeds or linseeds with 4 tbsp of water, and set aside with the cooling onions, until gluey.

  4. Meanwhile, roughly chop half the chestnuts but keep them chunky. Put the other half in a food processor with half the lentils, the microwaved squash and one-third of the roasted squash. Pulse to a mashed mixture. Tip this into a large mixing bowl with the softened onions, breadcrumbs, ground seed mixture and 1 tsp salt. Mash everything together really well to thoroughly mix, then more gently stir in the chopped chestnuts, followed by the whole lentils, and finally the remaining roasted squash chunks. Carefully press this mixture around and over the squash rings in the prepared tin. Level off the top, making sure it is tightly packed, then cover with foil. The cake can now be chilled for up to 24 hours before continuing.

  5. To bake, heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Put the cake (still foil covered), into the oven on a middle shelf and bake for 1 hr.

  6. To serve, heat the rapeseed oil in a small frying pan and sizzle the reserved sage leaves with the remaining rosemary sprigs for a minute. Loosen around the sides of the cake with a round-bladed knife, then sit a serving plate inverted on top, and carefully flip the plate to turn out the cake. Spoon over the sizzled sage and rosemary leaves and herby oil, and serve at the table – for cutting into wedges in front of everyone.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Liz Evans's picture
Liz Evans
2nd Jan, 2019
Made this for new year’s eve with 2019 in squash on the top. Was a fun centrepiece and everyone thought it was delicious. I read the reviews first so used 1.5 of the lentils and instead added some roughly chopped sauteed mushrooms. I also kept more larger chunks than puree, compressed it well and topped the tin with finely chopped walnuts. I made it a day ahead and cooked to serve. Would definitely make it again - maybe trying some different ingredients. Thanks GF!
kelly norrington's picture
kelly norrington
21st Feb, 2018
A healthy meal but not worth the effort to make. I totally agree with the other user: This was bland and fairly tasteless. Having read Kiwitifosi's review, I even added smoked paprika, nuts, caramelised onions and a layer of roasted butternut squash under the thin slices on the top. This was all in vein as it was still not great - too many lentils and chestnuts.
16th Aug, 2016
I had high hopes for this, but sadly it didn't deliver for me. The decorative slices of pumpkin on the top didn't cook properly, even though I sliced them thinly (3-4 mm). Maybe they should be lightly roasted before use. The dish itself smelt nice when it came out of the oven, but it didn't really taste of much. I nearly seasoned the pumpkin before roasting; I wish I had, as I'm sure that would have helped. On top of that, the texture is fairly mushy; even with the chunky chestnuts and whole lentils, it still didn't add enough interest. A good handful of walnuts or chopped brazil nuts might help. There was nothing technically difficult about the recipe, just a lot of prep. Have to admit I did not bother with the herbed oil, and that may help the flavour. (Postscript: I kept trying to give this 2 stars, but it would only record either 1 or 3!)
Ruth J
28th Nov, 2019
Please can you advise if this recipe can be frozen. If so, is it before or after cooking and how long do I reheat it for and should it be fully defrosted first? Thank you
lulu_grimes's picture
2nd Dec, 2019
Dear Ruth, you can freeze this recipe once it is cooked and cooled, you will have to defrost it thoroughly before you reheat it so the middle gets hot before the outside dries out. This should reheat in 20 mins at the same temperature it cooks at, cover it in foil to reheat. Use a skewer to check whether the centre is hot and give it longer if you need to, it will hold for a while, so allow 30 mins and leave it to rest for 10 mins before serving if it is ready after 20 mins. I hope this helps.
Ruth J
14th Dec, 2019
Thank you Lulu.
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