It is rare that you come across a food that is fresh and local, yet out of season. Sounds kind of strange doesn’t it? Fall and winter squash is such an amazing thing. Stick those babies in a cool environment and they seem to last forever.
That is exactly how this bread came about. At Easter my parents gave me two butternut squash, the last two of the 2009 season. They had kept them in the garage all winter and spring.
I wasn’t sure what I would find when I cut them open. I inserted the knife and carefully split open the squash a little nervous that I might be met with smelly, rotting innards. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw only bright orange flesh staring back at me, ready to be roasted.
I will admit I was pretty thrilled. One, because of how amazing these veggies are that they can be stored for so long and still taste great. Two, because this cool, rainy spring we are having is really messing with my cravings! I should be in a blissful state of enjoying fresh salads and grilled fish, but I find myself wanting warm comfort food and baked goods scented with cinnamon and spice.
The latter led to this recipe. Regardless of the season I can’t seem to pass up a tender, yet hearty quick bread for breakfast. This one is a twist on banana bread. It is sweetened with mascavo sugar and maple syrup and has some walnuts and flax meal thrown in for extra crunch and nutrition. The result? A slightly sweet bread, soft and moist from the squash — the perfect partner for coffee or tea eaten plain or with a small swipe of cinnamon butter.
Butternut, Flax and Walnut Bread
1/3 cup minimally refined cane sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup roasted butternut squash, mashed or pureed
2 tsp ground flax meal
¾ cup milk
2 ½ cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
½ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans, or you can use one standard loaf pan and two mini-loaf pans like I did.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, syrup and butter. Add the eggs and whisk until combined. Stir in the squash, milk and flax. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Gradually mix these dry ingredients into the wet batter just until everything is combined. Stir in the nuts.
Divide the batter between loaf pans. Bake the small loaf pans 20 to 25 minutes and the standard loaves 30 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, de-pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.