Acorn Squash Bread

This bread is tricky. It’s weaseled its way into my kitchen, not once, but twice this week. Round one, we munched it with mugs of hot tea. Round two, we griddled it and served the warm toasted pieces with vanilla ice cream. Either way it was seriously one of my favorite things I’ve eaten this fall. Squash, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg will leave your kitchen smelling just as it should this time of year.

The recipe here is one I got from my mom and dad, and who I believe got it from a Gourmet magazine years ago. I digressed very little from the original save for the squash itself, substituting acorn for the pumpkin, as that’s what I had on hand. Really any winter squash works well here. This particular recipe I think, unlike custards and pies, tolerates pumpkin in all its watery glory quite well. I remember my mom and dad roasting off a few pumpkins each fall, pureeing them up and freezing the pulp for winter time. Lots of that labor ended up in this tasty bread.

My parents make this bread plain – no nuts or fruit – just pure fall glory. I usually throw in a few of whatever nuts I have in the pantry, and sometimes, to John’s dismay, fresh or dried cranberries.

Anyway you work it, this recipe makes 1 loaf and serves 6 normal people or 2 very greedy people. It doubles well and can be frozen. Plainly sliced on the thanksgiving table, or in griddled and ice cream topped form as dessert, this would be a welcome addition to any holiday meal.

The jack-o-lantern is the one I carved in a hurry Halloween night after work. Five bags of candy and I ran out just before 7:00. Nuts.

For the Bread
1 small-medium acorn squash
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup mild olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground clove
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup chopped pecans or hazelnuts (optional)
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking tray and fill the tray with ½ an inch of water. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven a cool. Once cool, scoop the squash from its skin and puree in a food processor until smooth. Reserve 1 cup squash puree for the recipe and save any leftover for another use – you can eat it simply for dinner warmed with a little butter, salt, and pepper. (My medium sized acorn squash yielded about 1 ½ cups puree.)

In a medium size bowl, combine the 1 cup squash puree, the sugar, the oil, and the eggs. Mix well. Sift together the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add this to the squash mixture and mix until no lumps are visible. Fold in the nuts if using.

Butter and flour a loaf tin, and scoop the batter into the prepared tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaf generously with coarse sugar. Bake for 45-55 minutes until set. A toothpick inserted into the center of the bread should come out clean. Cool, slice, and munch!

Recipe Note: If you want to go a little more American here, this recipe is pretty killer topped with cream cheese frosting. Omit the coarse sugar sprinkle, and instead whip together: 5 oz softened cream cheese and 3 tbsp softened unsalted butter. Add 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tbsp maple syrup and whip smooth. Let the loaf cool completely and then frost it.