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oh autumn squashes, how I love thee

September 26, 2010

I love autumn squashes.  Can’t stand summer squashes, but dear lord I could eat autumn squashes every day if you let me.  Butternut, kabocha, acorn, delicata, sunshine, hubbard, pumpkin – yes, yes, yes.  When I came across a recipe last year that incorporated butternut squash into a yeast loaf, I knew I had to try it.  The resulting bread was a beautiful pale yellow, with just a hint of sweetness.  I brought some in to work, and coworker H has brought it up in conversation on a regular basis ever since.  Seriously, probably at least once a month there’d be a mention of the squash bread.  Definitely a sign of a successful recipe.

This year my first squash acquired was a sunshine squash.  Similar to kabocha, but with a bright orange skin and flesh, it’s got fantastic flavor.  I decided to try it in place of the butternut in the bread, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Due to the stronger color of the squash, the bread had a much more distinct hue – a bright, almost curry-like yellow.  The flavor was slightly sweet, without being cloying.  This bread is excellent for toasting, with soup, for panini, really just about anything you’d think to use a regular sliced bread for.  I’m delighted that changing out the squash worked so well, and plan to try it with other varieties in the near future.  The recipe makes three loaves, so you’ll have more than enough for both yourself and for sharing.  I gave a loaf to friends that we were hanging out with that evening, and brought the second loaf to work the next day for H.  When I saw her online and told her what I had for her, I could hear the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair from 30 miles away – H was working from home that day.

SUPER TASTY SQUASH BREAD

2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)

1/2 cup warm water

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups squash, cooked and mashed (butternut, sunshine, feel free to experiment)

1 cup warm (approx 110 degrees) milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 beaten eggs

1 teaspoon salt

7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • In mixer bowl, dissolve yeast and a pinch of the sugar in water, let stand 5-10 minutes.
  • Add sugar, squash, milk, butter, eggs, salt, and mix well.
  • Gradually add half the flour, beating until smooth.
  • Add remaining flour until a soft dough forms.
  • Knead (in stand mixer or on floured board) until elastic and smooth (approx 5 minutes in the mixer, or 6-8 by hand).
  • Place dough in greased bowl.  Turn over once to grease top, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour).
  • Punch dough down.
  • Divide into thirds and shape into three loaves.  Place into greased standard loaf pans.
  • Heat oven to 375F.
  • Cover and let rise until doubled (dough should be cresting the top of the pan), about 30-45 minutes.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown and interior is 190 degrees.  I found that with the butternut 20 minutes was spot on, but with the sunshine after 20 minutes I needed to cover the tops with foil (to prevent overbrowning) and cook for an additional 10 minutes in order to get the temperature up.
  • Remove loaves from pans and let cool completely on wire racks before slicing.
  • If you want a softer crust, brush with melted butter immediately after removing from the pans.
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