Despite late start, squash bread is big hit

Published 2:22 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

Squash Braid

— 1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded and cubed

Email newsletter signup

— 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

— 2 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees F)

— 1/3 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)

— 1/4 cup butter, softened

— 1 egg

— 3 tablespoons brown sugar

— 1/4 teaspoon salt

— 3 cups all-purpose flour

— 1 egg

— 1 tablespoon water

In a large saucepan, cover peeled and chopped squash with water. Bring water to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool and mash. Reserve 1 cup for use in this recipe and freeze the remainder for later use.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the milk, butter, 1 cup mashed squash, 1 egg, brown sugar, salt and 2 cups flour; stir well to combine. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 6 equal pieces and roll each into a rope about 18 inches long. Take 3 ropes, pinch ends together and then braid ropes together. Pinch ends to seal. Do the same with the other 3 ropes of dough. Place braids on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water; brush loaves with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove from baking sheets and let cool on a wire rack.

Several weeks ago I was at my mom’s house and she handed me a butternut squash her neighbor Angie gave her.

I took it home and put it on the back porch table to let it do whatever squash do so that I could store it for a later date.

A few weeks in to the “curing” process, I checked on the squash and it had a little bit of black stuff at the stem end and I thought, “Oh shoot, I’ve let that thing mold.”

Since I had other things to do, I left the squash lying out there. When I remembered it a few weeks later, the black stuff hadn’t gotten any worse and I told Brad I guess it was headed to the compost pile.

I figured I’d chop up the squash before placing it in the compost so that it would break down faster. I started cutting the squash at the butt end, and lo and behold, the inside was perfect.

I decided I might as well try and save the thing and prepare it some way.

It was one of the last warm days I figured we would have and we were going to have hamburgers that evening for supper when I remembered having some kind of squash fries recipe in my “vegetable” folder.

When I found that recipe it was just written on a sticky note stuck to a squash braid recipe. When I realized the squash fries would take way too long to prepare, I read the squash braid recipe and decided I’d fix that instead — but not that night.

I just cubed the peeled butternut squash, covered it with water and put it in the refrigerator until I wanted to fix the bread.

The next night when I got home, I read the squash braid recipe. Realizing the squash needed to be cooked, mashed and cooled before I could begin preparing the bread, I turned on the stove and put the pot of water and squash on to boil.

The squash cooked in relatively little time. I drained it and then used my mixer to mash it — I didn’t let the squash cool before mashing, I just did it right after draining all the water.

After it was mashed, I realized I had a lot more pureed squash than I was going to need for this recipe. I thought if this bread turns out well, I’d freeze the rest for another time. I put the mashed squash into the refrigerator to cool.

Of course as the night went on, I didn’t want to start making bread. I decided I’d start on the bread as soon as I got home the next night.

So on the third night of thinking about this recipe and knowing I wouldn’t go to bed until Brad got home, I started making it when I got home from work. I make yeast rolls for my family so I wasn’t worried about trying my hand at this bread recipe.

I followed the recipe to a T while combining all the ingredients.

When it came to the kneading process, I scraped all the dough onto my floured counter and looked at the clock. I thought eight minutes of kneading is a long time. I started kneading and kneading. After about four minutes, I decided I was done — surely that was enough time to knead this bread. Besides that, I’d incorporated a lot more flour into the recipe during the process and I didn’t want the mess up the end product with too much flour added in.

I oiled the bowl, put the dough in it (I rolled the dough around to cover the entire surface with the oil) and covered the bowl with a damp towel. I then took the bowl upstairs, where it is warmer, to rise.

After about an hour, I was ready to watch one of my favorite shows so I let the dough continue to rise until it was over. When I retrieved the dough from upstairs, it looked great.

After poking the dough to deflate it, I divided it into six equal parts and rolled each part into an 18-inch rope (yep, I measured each piece). I braided three ropes into a loaf, placed it on a greased cookie sheet and repeated the process.

Both braids looked pretty good. I covered each and returned them upstairs to rise.

After 30 minutes, I checked the braids and they had risen quite a bit. I headed to the kitchen with them. I brushed the egg wash on each one and placed each pan in an oven to start the baking process.

I took the bread out of the oven after 25 minutes and both loaves looked so pretty. When they cooled just a bit, Brad got home and wanted to know what was baking. I showed him the bread and he was impressed.

Before bed, I had to try this bread. I cut a small slice for us and, though Brad isn’t a bread eater (he likes bread, he just has will power and doesn’t eat a lot of it) he did try it.

I was expecting the bread to have a squash flavor but this braid just tasted like regular yeast bread — really good yeast bread. It was so light.

Since I’m a bread lover, I knew we could not keep both of these loaves at our house or I would eat them. The next day I sent a loaf to work with Brad so he could share. Everyone who ate it loved it and at least one person asked for the recipe.

The loaf I kept at home was savored for a couple of days,

All in all I definitely nailed this recipe and Brad might have to add butternut squash to his garden next year.

I never thought I would like squash, but this is the third type of squash I’ve tried and liked this year.

By the way, I had enough leftover mashed squash that I can fix this recipe two more times. This bread just might be added to our Thanksgiving day menu.