March flew by with a crazy schedule as I was preparing for the Greenwich Training for Transition weekend. 32 people came to the village to immerse themselves in the Transition model for building community resilience and reducing the carbon footprint. Small towns use the model to explore sustainable decisions with a focus on energy, food and local services.
The focus of meals for the training sessions was on locally sourced food, organic where possible, and minimal processing – all of which is a challenge in late winter. We have a couple of excellent local sources for breads but it is harder to find affordable baked goods with the same high standards. The resolution was for me to bake for the weekend guests: gluten free chocolate fleur de sel cookies, a selection of biscotti, and a breakfast bread to stand-in for coffee cake.
I used buttercup squash from Crandall’s Corners Farm, purchased in the late fall, roasted, cut in chunks and then frozen for use throughout the winter. The buttercup squash in this recipe provides superior moisture and a luscious texture. You can use any dense winter squash, roasted or canned. I used white whole wheat flour with an added boost to fiber with flax seed meal choosing maple syrup instead of sugar, made for a slightly heavier bread.
Spiced Whole Wheat Buttercup Squash Bread
Yields 2 loaves
2/3 cup butter or vegetable oil
1.25 cups sugar (or use 1 c maple syrup)
4 large eggs
2 cups (or 1-can) roasted squash or pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup water or cider (if using maple syrup then reduce water by 3/8c – or 6T)
3 cups whole wheat (or combine half whole wheat/ half AP flour)
1/3 c flax seed meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 t ground ginger
¼ t ground black pepper
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9-x 5-inch loaf pans. Line with parchment paper to ease the release of finished bread.
Combine squash, sugar or maple syrup, water/juice, eggs, oil and vanilla extract in large bowl; stir well. If you are using your own roasted squash you can combine all the ingredients and nuts, in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fully combined.
Stir in flour mixture (and finely chopped nuts, if you have not already done so) just until fully moistened. Do not over mix. Pour evenly into prepared loaf pans, smoothing the tops. Bake for 60 (to 70) minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. It may be a bit sticky but will be done. Make sure to use the tester – it has to be cooked through – but not over-cooked.
Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack. Important to allow to cool 5 minutes before turning out. When it’s completely cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and store it overnight before serving. Can be eaten right out of the oven but the best flavor develops after 24 hours. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
If desired, just before serving, drizzle with an icing made of 1-cup confectioners’ or glazing sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1-tablespoon milk.