This bread was so good we made it twice within 3 days and gobbled up every last crumb.
My sister Tara is a bread baker wannabe and her first attempt over our Thanksgiving break was good but not what she wanted. The whole wheat dough was wet and didn’t exactly rise. So when our other sister brought home this recipe for a butternut squash braid [Tara's pretty obsessed with squash :], she decided to go for round II.
It smelled delicious, looked incredible, definitely doubled—maybe tripled—in size, and tasted… divine. Perfection, with the exception of being slightly undercooked and doughy, which didn’t bother our family of dough-lovers. We ripped off wads of it like challah and let it melt in our mouths, sinking into a ball of dough in the pit of our stomachs that stayed there all night. Quite filling, but it was impossible to have just one piece!
So after the successful test run my sisters decided to make it again for Christmas dinner. We let it bake all the way through this time, the crust turning a shiny golden brown. The inside texture was airy and soft—the way it’s meant to be—but we actually preferred the dense, doughy loaf :]
Moral of the story: we’re not master bread bakers, so this loaf should be fairly simple and fool-proof for beginners if you follow the directions. The butternut gives it a richness and makes it soft and moist, and the texture reminds me of challah. This is definitely a keeper in the bread recipe files!
Seeded Butternut Squash Braid, from taste of home
Prep time: 45 min + rising, Bake: 20 min. Yields 18 servings.
- 2-3/4 cups uncooked cubed peeled butternut squash
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
- 2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
- 1/2 cup pepitas or sunflower kernels (we didn’t use)
- 1/4 cup butter, softened (we used Earth Balance)
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 cup pepitas or sunflower kernels
Place squash in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash squash (you will need 2 cups); cool to 110°-115°.
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk and water. In a largebowl, combine the pepitas, butter, egg, brown sugar, salt, cooked squash, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into thirds. Shape each into a 26-in. rope; braid ropes. Transfer to a greased baking sheet; form into a circle, pinching ends together to seal. Cover with a clean kitchen towel; let rise in a warm place
until doubled, about 45 minutes.
For topping, beat egg and water; brush over braid. Sprinkle with pepitas. Bake at 350° for 18-23 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf (18 slices). Per slice: 192 calories, 7 g fat, 31 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 7 g protein.
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