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Butternut squash bread is a hearty, filling bread that is made using butternut squash puree. The bread can be baked with or without yeast, depending on the texture and consistency desired. Butternut squash bread can be made into a dessert bread with decadent additions, or turned into a filling sandwich bread.
The first step to any butternut squash bread recipe is to make butternut squash puree. If using a whole squash, slice it in half, scoop out seeds, then roast in the oven until soft. The cooked squash can then be scooped away from the skin and mashed into a puree. For a faster puree, buy a package of pre-cut squash and microwave in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for five to seven minutes. Canned butternut squash puree is often difficult to find, but canned pumpkin puree can always be substituted in a pinch.
For a yeast bread, consider using active dry yeast and proofing the yeast in lukewarm water to ensure its freshness. Once the yeast and bread ingredients are mixed with the squash, the dough will need to rise for an hour, or until it has doubled in size. It may help to put the dough in a warm part of the kitchen, as this can speed the rising process. Consider putting the dough in a tall, clear container to rise, and marking the initial level of the dough by putting a rubber band around the outside of the container. This trick will make it easy to see when the dough has doubled and is ready to bake.
Butternut squash bread can also be made without yeast, making it similar in texture to a banana bread. For this type of recipe, combine the pureed squash with plenty of spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Since non-yeast recipes do not need to rise, the dough can be dumped from the bowl into greased loaf pans and baked at once. When a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, the bread is done.
To make a decadent butternut squash bread, consider adding chunks of dark chocolate, Bosc pears, or a caramel swirl to the bread before baking. For an iced version, beat cream cheese with a little sugar until fluffy, then layer on top of the bread after it has cooled. Butternut squash bread can also be used instead of cookies for a seasonal ice cream sandwich; consider using homemade pumpkin, ginger, or milk chocolate ice cream for the filling. Once the bread has aged a few days, consider incorporating it into a bread pudding recipe.
For a healthier version, substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour in the recipe. Consider boosting the nutritional value of the bread by adding walnuts, sunflower seeds, or oatmeal to the bread dough. For a slightly sweet bread, substitute a little honey or maple syrup for any sugar in the recipe, or add a drop of molasses. If planning to use for a healthy sandwich bread, consider making a yeast dough, as the texture will be firmer and the bread may last longer.
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