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Butternut Squash Bread

Sweet, earthy and packed full of butternut squash, this bread is a great snack for the chilly winter months.

After the extravagant dinners and treats of the holiday season, the first few weeks of the New Year are always devoted to healthy eating. Focusing on vegetables and cutting out sugar can make the mind and body feel refreshed after all the rich meals of the past year. But after a few weeks of no sugar or gluten, it’s time for a hearty, sweet treat. This bread is a mix of both, combining butternut squash puree with walnuts into a sweet bread. It might not be the best for cleansing, but in the cold winter months, toasted with a dollop of butter, it’s a great way to start the day. Although this recipe uses fresh butternut squash puree, a can of pumpkin puree makes for an easier process. But the hearty squash taste adds a great flavor and is well worth the extra time.

Butternut squash bread, make one loaf
1 large butternut squash, or 1 cup packed pumpkin puree
½ cup water
Cheesecloth, butcher twine
2 eggs
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 cup walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove skin from butternut squash and cut into ½-inch cubes. Place into a baking pan (a bread pan works great), add the ½ cup water and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until squash is soft to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2. When cool, mash the squash with a spoon, until pureed (or use a small food processor). Take a large piece of cheesecloth, fold it in half to make it double layered, and put the squash in the center. Grab the sides to make a bag with the cheesecloth around the squash. Tie to close with the butcher twine (or a rubber band), and then tie the bag onto the handle of a long wooden spoon. Place the spoon across a bowl large enough so that the squash has room to hang and is not touching the bottom. Place in the refrigerator and let hang for one day.

3. Start here if using canned pumpkin puree. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and sugar a loaf pan.

4. Remove squash from the refrigerator, toss out the drained liquid, and cut open the cheesecloth. Place 1 cup of puree (or pumpkin), in a bowl with the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

5. Place the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones and combine. Stir in the walnuts.

6. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle a line of sugar along the top, as well as walnuts. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until the bread is completely set. Put on a drying rack, and allow bread to cool.

Note: While the bread is great cooled, try toasting it with butter and jam for an extra sweet treat!

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