When I found myself with six large butternut squash in my garage, I decided to try some recipes I liked with fresh squash puree as opposed to canned pumpkin. I peeled the squash, cut it into large chunks, and steamed until tender. While still warm, mash with a potato masher (or pulse in the food processor) until broken down, but not completely smooth.
A layer of squash in lasagna was good, but didn’t do much to make a dent in my supply. Baking was the way to go. I pulled out a bread recipe I liked from Smitten Kitchen and made some adjustments. I prefer less sugar, like to bake with kosher salt, and find vanilla a much more pleasing taste than cloves.
I can be a creature of habit, particularly on damp days when all I want to do is get the house warmed up and smelling good. Normally I think it works best to combine all of the dry ingredients and then add them to the wet. I liked the SK method of adding the smaller amounts of dried ingredients, like the baking soda and the spices first, followed by the flour. The best part was keeping this a one-bowl batter. Less to clean up.
Along the lines of habit, I love versatile base recipes and expanding on them. In this case, a batter that yields a moist loaf or muffins. I also wanted to see if I could substitute other vegetables or fruit. First try, applesauce variation, bubbled over and had an even longer bake time, but it was delicious. I made a couple of times and then moved on to zucchini. (See Notes on Muffins and Variations, Below)
I successfully made this for my friend Abi of Abi's Farmhouse Kitchen using Bob's Red Mill's Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. Err on the side of a longer bake. And my friend Sarah did this with a different flour split. She said, "since I am from Sebastopol" I can never use all a-p. (For those that don't know the Sonoma County town, historically it is home to a lot of artists and farmers, with a lot of different spiritual influences.) Sarah used 1 cup a-p, ¾ cup whole wheat, and ½ cup almond flour.
Makes 1 loaf or 18 muffins
1 ¾ cups butternut squash puree
(or One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable oil, plus additional for the pan (my preference is avocado)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Position the oven rack in the center and preheat to 350˚F.
Lightly, but completely, brush or rub the bottom and sides of a 9-by 5-inch (6 cup) loaf pan with oil. For muffins, see below.
In a large bowl whisk together the squash puree, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, and the salt over the top and whisk until evenly distributed. Add the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and whisk again.
Add the flour and stir, preferably with a silicone spatula, until just combined, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom. Scrape into the prepared pan and gently smooth the top.
If using, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the topping and sprinkle over the top.
Bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean in a few areas, particularly in the center. If using canned pumpkin it will be about 1 hour 15 minutes. (Tent the top of the loaf with foil if it starts to get too dark.) A looser puree takes longer, 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours.
Transfer to a cooling rack for 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Gently loosen the edges as needed. Carefully remove from the pan, set on the rack, and let cool completely.
Cooking Note, Muffins
To make muffins: Line 18 standard muffin cups with paper liners. If you only have one muffin pan the batter will hold at room temperature or in the refrigerator while the first batch bakes and the pan cools. Let the batter warm slightly as needed before using.
Spoon about 3 tablespoons of batter into each cup, tap the bottom to even the tops, and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar, if using. A skewer should come out clean after 20-25 minutes of baking. A bit longer if the batter is still slightly cold.
Cooking Note, Variations
Applesauce will work, but definitely use less. I liked it with 1 ½ cups of applesauce which results in a more fluid batter, and it does get awfully close to bubbling over a little bit. If that is a concern, put a baking sheet on a rack under the one the loaf pan is on or use a piece of aluminum foil. When it's time to take it out of the pan, it might need some trimming to remove, but I like the statement of the big topped loaf.
Zucchini on the other hand will give you a much stiffer batter. I recommend using 2 cups of grated (on the largest hole of a box grater), well drained zucchini. (Start with about 8 ounces of zucchini.) Depending on when the zucchini is mixed in the look of the finished loaf is different. I preferred the one where I added the zucchini at the end. Less about the exterior, more about the even dispersement of the zucchini. Whisk together the sugar, oil, and eggs. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then add in 1 ¾ cups of the flour. Toss the grated zucchini with the remaining flour and then mix that in.