The Garden that Keeps Giving: Solstice Bread

img_5132As Winter Solstice quickly approaches the days grow noticeably bright, seemingly shorter and much colder. These celestial indicators help prepare us for a fresh new season. Consistent with traditions, winter marks a time for cooking, creating, reading, storytelling, and spending quality time with family and friends, new and old. Today proved to be a glorious time for reflection and preparation of more festive days to come! Lauren and I prepared a delicious spiced winter squash tea bread we chose to see as a token gift of thanks for having an ability to grow squash where we live.

Our sweet bread concoction ended up slathered with soft butter and wafted a fragrance scented with heart-warming spice.  We considered our best-ever loaf as a perfect snack or meal addition, one especially nourishing for cold overcast days. The recipe is shared below in hopes of serving many other solstice observers during their own holiday gift-giving and seasonal dining pursuits!

Ingredients:

1 cup pureed winter squash (from a 2-3 pound squash)

1¾ cup all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1½ teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped, toasted pecans OR ½ cup raisins

butter, for the baking pan

Instructions:
1) Begin by roasting the squash. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the squash down the middle, lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.

2) Place the squash cut side down on a lightly-oiled baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until soft. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool for a few minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

3) Butter a 9″x 5″ bread pan. Set aside.

4) Once the squash has cooled, scoop the flesh out of the skin and place in a food processor. Puree for several minutes until smooth. Alternatively, mash by hand with a potato masher.

5) Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk briefly to mix.

6) In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. This can be done with either an electric mixer or by hand.

7) Add the eggs, one at a time. 

8) Add the vanilla extract and the squash puree and mix well.

9) Add the flour mixture in two parts and mix gently. Fold in the pecans or raisins.

10) Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Smooth top with a spatula. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

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