Monday, October 8, 2007

Spiced Pumpkin Bread + Roasted Squash

I'm not a big fan of nutty, dry, light banana/zucchini/pumpkin-and-nut breads, but I do love their dark, moist, dense counterparts. I'm sure that this preference can be traced directly to my mom, who makes a flavourful, impossibly moist banana bread that I absolutely adore.

Last fall, during one of my frequent, late-night sudden urges to bake, I stumbled upon a Bon Appetit recipe for spiced pumpkin bread. I was in love at first bite, when I realised that this is the perfect fall version of my mom's banana bread.

Just a few notes from personal experience:

* I cut the sugar down to 2 cups, and I use 1 cup white, 1 cup brown sugar.

* To make up for the lost sugar, I add one extra egg; in the baking world, sugar is considered a liquid, so the egg is a successful substitution here.

* I omit the walnuts, as I prefer this bread sans nuts.

* I add a teaspoon of ground ginger for a hint of spicy heat.

* While I love the flavour of pumpkin, I've found that this recipe works really well with other roasted squash, too.

I highly recommend roasting your own pumpkin or squash for this bread. It's not difficult at all, and it tastes so much better than anything you can buy in a can.

You can also eat this squash- cubed or mashed- alongside a chicken or other roasted meats. Either way, you might just find yourself buying more Halloween pumpkins just for the leftovers!

This is the easiest way, that I know of, to both cook hard winter squash and remove the skin.

Roasted Squash

any amount winter squash*, stem ends sliced off, cut into manageable pieces**, seeds scooped out, skin left on

small amount olive oil or neutral vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425'F. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper.

Set squash pieces, skin side down, onto the parchment paper. Brush cut sides with oil. Roast in the middle of your oven until a fork easily pierces the flesh (start checking at 30 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and cut into chunks, or process using a food mill.

* Butternut, acorn, delicata, spaghetti, pumpkin, etc.
** Cut large squash (over 1 lb) into quarters or eighths, lengthwise; smaller squash (less than 1 lb) can be cut into halves, lengthwise

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