Monday, January 31, 2011

Butternut Squash and Dark Chocolate Loaf.

"Dear Lindsay,
Could you please bake something healthy for us? Thanks!
Love Theo."

The intensely neat handwriting on this note, along with the fact that Theo is our dog, led me cleverly to deduce that it was in fact my mom who wished for something from the oven. It also clearly indicated she wanted neither cookies nor brownies (boo to that). Healthy baking would be a departure from 'the more-butter-the-better' approach we all seemed to take in Parma, but since I love my mother and had been wanting to bake something butternut-y lately, I decided this was the opportunity. Nearly every recipe I found called for two cups of sugar and about a half-gallon of oil, and while I'm sure these would be completely tasty, they did not quite fit with Ina's request. I finally came across this recipe for whole grain pumpkin bread, which has reasonable amounts of sugar and fat and seemed it would lend itself well to adaptation. The result was a (sort of) guilt-free and tender loaf that lasted all of two days. I was happy with it, so here she be.


Butternut Squash and Dark Chocolate Loaf:
Adapted from The Whole Grain Gourmet

1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed natural brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree*
1 cup white flour
3/4 cup (minus 1/2 a tablespoon) whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda, diluted in 1/4 cup hot water
1, 250 gram bar of 75% dark chocolate, chopped into chocolate-chip sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Whisk and put aside.

In another large bowl combine butter, honey and sugar. Beat for two minutes. Add the eggs and lightly beat until just combined. Mix in squash and vanilla - do not overmix. Gradually beat in the flour mixture in thirds.

Dilute the baking soda in the water and beat into batter. By hand, stir in the chocolate and nuts.

Pour the batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake at 325 for approximately 55-65 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness, and be careful not to over-bake or the loaf will dry out. Once out of the oven let cool 10 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and cool on a wire rack. Delicious if eaten warm, though it does tend to fall apart! After a few hours it slices more cleanly.

*To make the puree: Slice one large or two small butternuts lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place skin side up on an oiled baking sheet and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife slides easily through the thickest part. Remove from oven and let cool, then scoop the softened squash out into a bowl. Mash with a fork and bam! You've got butternut squash puree.

1 comment:

  1. Does this mean you are in town for a wee bit?