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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Butternut Squash Bread


I love zucchini bread.  I consider it a very sustainable product, because it uses a very cheap-to-grow vegetable to stretch your more expensive baking ingredients.  Squash is a natural that way.  It has a body to it that allows you to put it in breads and breadlike products (like pizza crust), and it seems to really extend the amount of finished product you wind up with.  Adding squash also adds a bit of extra nutrition and lightness to something that might otherwise be a little heavy and fattening.

Since I love zucchini bread so much, I decided to try making it with butternut squash, and I'm glad I did!  The finished product has a very slight pumpkin flavor to it, and it tastes like a very mild coffee cake.  It is also very prepping-friendly, in keeping with our February theme. 

Unlike zucchini, butternut squash can simply be cellared in a cool spot to keep throughout the winter, so the only ingredients in this recipe that are not shelf stable are the eggs, and even they would keep for a decent amount of time in a cool enough spot. (And powdered eggs would do in a pinch; the richness of the squash should help compensate texture-wise.)  Therefore, this would be one of the recipes that would still work even if you were off the power grid for a long time.  I can just imagine baking a loaf of this in a woodstove or outdoor bread oven in a cast iron dutch oven; I may have to try that the next time I fire one or the other up!

Squash Bread
3 eggs (free-range and farm fresh, if you can)
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt.
1 medium butternut squash (or 2 medium zucchini in summer)

Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Bake the butternut squash in a shallow pan filled with water on 350 until the squash is soft, about 30 minutes.  Remove the flesh from the skins and mash.  (In summer, grate zucchini until you have up to 2 cups of shredded squash -- this recipe is very forgiving about the amount of squash you have.)

In a large bowl, beat eggs.  Add sugar, oil, and vanilla and mix.  Add dry ingredients and squash and blend well. 

Pour into two greased loaf pans, one bundt pan, or one large lasagna pan (9x13).  Bake at 350 for one hour.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes and remove.

The Analysis
Fast:  Lots of baking time here, but not a lot of prep.  If you are making this in winter, allow a little extra time to bake the butternut squash first.  I like to do a big batch of squash and make this at the same time I'm doing butternut squash spaetzle.

Cheap:  Using squash as an extender makes this more pocket-friendly than a traditional sweet bread.  Spend your extra on farm-fresh eggs.

Good:  This is quite a treat at any time, and it is comforting to know at least one recipe would be able to make it through a grid-outage and subsequent food storage problem relatively intact.
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