There’s an invigorating, crisp snap in the air – my signal to bake the season’s first batch of winter squash-walnut bread. I have been making this bread – treasured by my family members – for over twenty years. Moist and flavorful, with a subtly spicy warmth, this fragrant bread is great with a cup of coffee for breakfast. I’ve also topped it with sautéed apples, rum-soaked raisins and a dollop of sweetened whipped cream for a rustic fall dessert.
Many winter squash varieties will work for this recipe, including kabocha, delicata and butternut. If you want to use pumpkin, make sure to select a small sugar pumpkin – the big Halloween variety doesn’t work well for baking. Simply split the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast it in the oven at 375 degrees with its skin on until the flesh is easily pierced with a knife. Cool, scoop the flesh out of the shell with a spoon, and mash/puree the flesh for the recipe. If you have any left over, top it with butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar for a yummy dinner side dish.
Winter Squash-Walnut Bread
½ cup white sugar
½ cup tightly packed brown sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup well-mashed homemade squash puree (or canned pumpkin puree)
2 eggs, well beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup whole milk (can replace with water)
½ cup lightly toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Flour and butter two loaf pans and set aside. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the mashed squash with the beaten eggs, oil and milk in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently until completely mixed. Add the walnuts and incorporate them gently into the batter. Divide the batter between the two loaf pan and place in oven. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans, then remove bread onto a rack.