When it comes to dessert, things like lemon, raspberry, or chocolate attracts me. Not ... squash. Also, I would have been put off by the pumpkin seeds, not because I don't like them (I do), but because they're not something I'd find readily in my pantry.
Baking this loaf was all my cousin's idea, and she's the one I need to thank for introducing me to a hearty, tasty, and simply wonderful sweet bread.
It all started with a bitter butternut squash that she'd dry roasted. The kids didn't want to have anything to do with it unless it was generously doctored with butter and syrup (but really, few things aren't made better with those two things). That's when she decided she'd make this bread, which she had at Macrina and loved. But she also needed my stand mixer, 2 eggs, and another loaf pan. That's where I came in.
We used 2 cups of sugar instead of the 3 the recipe calls for, with no negative results to the texture (it was quite lovely and moist). It was also still plenty sweet; if we made it again we might try to cut down on the sugar even more. This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread, so it's great for a family or for pastry gifting, which is always appreciated!
Macrina Bakery Squash Harvest Loaf (from Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery Cookbook)
- 2 cups roasted butternut squash purée (use a 1-1/2 lb medium-sized squash)
- 1/2 cup walnut halves
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
Roasting the butternut squash
- Wash and cut the squash in two halves, remove the seeds and place the halves in a rimmed baking sheet, face up, with 1 cup of water in the pan. Cook in a preheated oven at 375°F for 1 hour minimum, until the flesh is fork tender.
- Remove and let cool down before scooping the squash out.
- Place in a food processor and mix smoothly.
- Let cool down and use 2 cups for 2 loaves. Keep the rest in the fridge for 3 days max, or freeze it for future use.
- Place the nuts and seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 15 min. Remove from the oven and let cool down before grinding them to medium-sized pieces. Keep 1/4 cup on the side, for decoration.
- Turn the oven temperature down to 325°F.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.
- Add the seeds, minus 1/4 cup. Mix with a wooden spoon.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oil and two types of sugar and use the paddle attachment to mix on medium speed, for 4 min.
- Add the roasted butternut squash and continue to mix for 2 min.
- Add one egg at a time, mixing until fully incorporated.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add the flour and the buttermilk alternatively, until the liquid is absorbed each time.
- Transfer the mixture into 2 oiled 9-in loaf pans, filling each about 2/3 to the top.
- Sprinkle with the reserved seeds.
- Bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out dry when inserted into the loaf. Remove and let cool for 20 min before unmolding onto a cooling rack.