The leaves are changing, Boston residents are sporting their Bean Boots and Hunters, and Trader Joe’s is selling an obnoxious amount of pumpkin-flavored items(64 and counting, to be exact).
YUP folks, it’s fall! Break out those napkins and dig out your scarves, because October has arrived! As excited as I am over the start of the fall season, I always seem to find myself in a bit of a baker’s dilemma. People get SO overly excited about the sudden availability of apple and pumpkin everything that I sort of shy away from arbitrarily flinging a pumpkin pie in my oven come October 1st (although I did buy some pumpkin oatmeal… gave in a little on that one…).
So how can I fulfill my sudden need of warm, fall-flavored baked goodness, while still remaining true to my distaste for rushing the fall season? The answer is pretty simple, and you might not have even noticed it :)[Cue the Chariots of Fire theme song]…This particular post is dedicated to the underdogs of the fall produce world:The outcasts of the farmers market!Those strangely-shaped things that you pass right by because, what the heck IS that thing and how do you even eat it? The ingredients with names you can’t pronounce! Those annoying things you get in your CSA basket and you think “oh no, not this thing again…”This post is for all of the lonely quince, gooseberries, cranberries, figs, persimmons and pomegranates out there, and all of their other fruit and veggie friends.
You know, the ones you glance right over while you’re making a beeline towards those pretty Honeycrisp apples. These fantastic ingredients make for some pretty delicious desserts, and when combined with those aromatic fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, your house will be smelling like fall in no time (and you won’t even miss the pumpkin pie)!
Now trust me, I get it. I realize that your first instinct might not be to pick up a persimmon and take a stab at something that might not come out as tasty as your grandma’s sure-fire apple pie. Instead, why not think about taking an unfamiliar ingredient and attempting to use it in a way that isn’t so scary to you?Yup, we’ve got all of that here on the Let Her Bake Cake Blog today.Not a trace of apple or pumpkin? Check.Taking unfamiliar ingredients and using them in a familiar way? Check.Cozy aromatic fall deliciousness? CHECK.
Introducing the Butternut Squash!Although this isn’t the most unfamiliar ingredient ever, it certainly is one of the more unusual ones hanging out at the early-fall farmer’s markets. I was actually surprised how many people I spoke with who haven’t ever tried butternut squash before, or who had only ever had it in ravioli (thanks, Panera!). Today’s recipe will not only familiarize you with the ingredient, but it will teach you how to make butternut squash puree, which is the base for SO MANY fantabulous (is that a word? it is now…) recipes 🙂
[some facts about the Butternut squash]This veggie is known as a “winter squash”, but its season runs from early fall through to winter. It has a tan colored exterior and bright orange flesh, (more similar to the color of a traffic cone than the burnt orange color of pumpkin) and has a faint cantaloupe-esque smell to it once cut open.
-They can be used in both savory and sweet preparations
-They are an approachable ingredient to prepare and require little cooking knowledge or ability (this goes for most squash)
-The addition of butternut squash to a recipe is the perfect way to add moistness, creaminess, or added flavor to a dish without adding extra dairy, butter, or oil
– The cooked squash puree stores well in the freezer, so you can sneak it into something else later on (try this as a side dish with dinner one night… boyfriend approved!)
– You can even save and toast the seeds with a little bit of salt or spices (try this) for a delicious fall snack
This butternut squash bread is the perfect start to fall without diving headfirst into a sea of pumpkin puree, or ending up in apple peels up to your eyes.
The roasted squash puree gives it an incredible texture and moistness that will have you snacking all day. The combo of the delicate butternut squash flavor, a familiar blend of warming fall spices, and the nutty aroma of browned butter will probably make you do a little dance (I may or may be speaking from experience…).Then of course, there’s the glaze, which adds a ping of sweetness followed by that browned butter richness (anddddd I might have eaten several spoonfuls of while nobody was looking… total sugar coma).All of this melds together to create total comfort and satisfaction; it’s truly the complete essence of fall!Makes 1 regular-sized loaf, or 3 mini loavesIngredients:For the Butternut Squash Bread:
1 cup butternut squash puree*1/4 cup brown butter**1/4 cup vegetable oil1/4 cup milk2 eggs1 3/4 c All Purpose flour1 tsp baking soda1/2 tsp baking powder1 c brown sugar1/2 c granulated sugar1 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp nutmeg1/4 tsp black pepper***1/2 tsp saltFor the Brown Butter Glaze:
3 Tbsp brown butter1/2 c confectioners sugar1 Tbsp milkMethod:
1. *First, you want to make your puree. To prepare the butternut squash puree, cut the squash in half, and then in quarters, scooping the seeds and pulp out of the rounded section of the squash. Place each section flesh-side down on an oiled sheet tray and roast for 30-40 minutes at 375, or until tender. Let the squash cool enough to handle and scoop the flesh from the skin, ensuring that the skin formed from roasting is removed as well. Mash with a fork or large spoon into a puree. From here you can use this as a base for many different recipes! Once you are finished, turn your oven down to 350F. 2. **Next, brown your butter. For the brown butter, you will want to brown enough for the bread (1/4 cup), and the glaze (3 Tbsp) at the same time. Cube the butter and place in a small saucepan over medium heat. As the butter melts, it will start to foam, and you will want to be attentive at this point. Using a rubber spatula or whisk, stir the butter slowly so one section doesn’t sit on the bottom of the pot for too long. It is a slightly slow process, but you will know when the butter starts to brown, because the color and smell will change as the milk solids begin to brown, growing darker and nuttier. Be aware that once you start to see the butter brown, you will want to only leave it on the heat for about 10-15 seconds or so after that, because the heat from the pot itself will brown the butter even after the heat is shut off. You want a dark brown color, but not black! Pour the butter into a separate bowl to cool to room temperature, and don’t forget to take out 3 Tbsp for your glaze!
3. In a large bowl, combine your puree, brown butter, vegetable oil, milk, and eggs, whisking to combine. 4. Measure your AP flour, baking soda and powder, sugars, salt, and spices into the same bowl as the wet, and fold together with a spatula. ***Don’t be scared of the black pepper! This gives the bread a slightly spicy note, like that of a molasses or gingersnap cookie. Trust me, it is a great compliment to all of the fall spices!
5. Grease your loaf pan (or pans, if you are using the mini loaf pans), and fill with the batter (3/4 of the way for each mini loaf pan). Bake for 40-50 minutes for a regular loaf pan, or 25-30 minutes for a mini loaf pan, or until the bread springs back to the touch, or a skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. 6. To make the glaze, combine the separated 3 Tbsp of butter, confectioners sugar (depending on how lumpy your sugar is, you might need to sift it), and milk and stir until smooth. If the mixture looks separated, your butter probably got too cold. Just stick it in the microwave for about 10 seconds and it should come together nicely! You can either use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over the top of the warm bread, or drizzle it over top of the cooled bread with a spoon. Either way is equally as delicious!I hope you are inspired to step out of your comfort zone this season and try something you’ve never experienced before. Who knows, you may be surprised!Stay hungry and curious!