One of the things that our garden produces in enormous abundance is winter squash. Our soil seems to be perfect for them, as the vines grow vigorously and if left to their own devices, will churn out tons of squash.
We have learned not to plant quite so many hills, and also to trim them back throughout the summer, to ensure we not be quite so overwhelmed by them. Still, they are a big favorite of ours and little treats like this are one reason.
Did you know that you can substitute an orange fleshed squash like this for pumpkin in nearly any recipe? They are pretty much interchangeable as far as I’m concerned, with both having a great flavor in sweet as well as savory recipes. You may find as well, that fresh winter squashes are cheaper than fresh pumpkins, though heaven only knows why, since they are equally easy to grow – because they can get away with it, I suppose.
If you decide to substitute winter squash for pumpkin in one of your recipes, the main thing you need to watch out for is the moisture level of the squash. Commercially canned pumpkin has a very low moisture level compared to a pumpkin or squash from your garden or the Farmer’s Market.
To offset that, cut the squash or pumpkin in half, scrape out any seeds, and lay cut side down on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Roast at 350 degrees until the flesh is completely cooked and very soft. Allow to cool somewhat, and scoop the flesh from the shell, place it in a mesh strainer and allow the extra moisture to drain off into a bowl – you can discard the excess moisture or save it to use in soup or risotto. I often leave it in the fridge in the strainer overnight. Then, you can put the flesh through a food mill, food processor, or just get in there and smooth it all out with an immersion blender, which is how I often do it. It is then ready to use, or it can be frozen for later use.
Today, I used it to make this moist, delicious bread. This recipe makes 8 mini loaves, or 2 nice big 8 x 5 inch loaves.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup wheat germ
- 1 & ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups cooked, pureed butternut squash
- ⅔ cup molasses
- 4 eggs
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup Greek, non-fat yogurt
- ½ cup milk
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Prepare your baking pans by generously buttering them. For some extra insurance against sticking, you can cut parchment paper to fit the bottoms of the pans, place in the bottom of each and butter again.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients: the flours, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder and soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the pureed squash, molasses, eggs, vegetable oil, yogurt, milk and lemon juice and zest.
- Empty the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix together, just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. It will not be a smooth batter, but that is what you want - over-mixing will result in a less tender final result.
- Divide the batter evenly in the prepared pans. Bake on the center rack of the oven, turning the loaves a few times during the baking time to ensure even cooking.
- The smaller loaves will be done in around 30 minutes, the larger ones in 50 to 55 minutes. Test with a toothpick or wooden skewer, which should come out clean with the loaves are done. Alternatively, you can test for temperature, with a digital thermometer, which should read 200º.
- Cool the loaves in the pans for about 5 minutes, and then carefully tip out onto a cooling rack - it's a good idea to run a table knife around the edges of each pan before removing the loaves.
- Cool completely before wrapping tightly for storage. They will be fine at room temperature for a couple days, but after that should be refrigerated or frozen for longer term storage.
This does make a really nice hostess gift, and I have found it to always be welcome at dish to pass or potluck dinners. I like to keep some in the freezer for unexpected company as well – serve with butter or softened cream cheese.
For a yummy sweet and savory breakfast, toast two slices, butter lightly, and lay on a plate, topping each with a soft fried egg – an awesome combination of flavors, trust me. What could be better on Thanksgiving morning?