Sunday, January 19, 2014

Braided Butternut Squash Bread

     It's a good thing The Wife is really good at braiding bread. Her challah is supreme. This time we used her preternatural braiding abilities to make a braided butternut squash bread. I found the original recipe at Allrecipes. We wound up making this bread because we've had a surplus of frozen butternut squash and have been on a crusade to find fun ways to use it. This is certainly a great way to use butternut squash. After the bread came out of the oven, we just stood there like morons, vacantly shoving hot bread in our mouths until we were through half a loaf. As always, any notes or changes are in blue.

Braided Butternut Squash Bread
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (I always wonder why we have to be told to peel a butternut squash. Do you think there's anybody out there who just can't get enough butternut squash peel?)
  • 1 (0.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm (110F) water
  • 1/3 cup warm (110F) milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar (we used 4 tablespoons. You could probably do 5 or 6 if you wanted a really sweet bread)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (we followed a suggestion to go with 3/4 teaspoon salt to bring out the butternut squash flavor)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (the dough is totally unworkable with this much flour. It's almost still liquid. We wound up using 4-1/2 cups flour)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. In a large saucepan, cover cubed squash with water. Bring water to a boil and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool and mash. Reserve 1 cup for use and freeze the remainder for later use (or just tell me I only needed 1 cup of boiled, mashed squash so I didn't have to cook all of it! What if I didn't want all that extra mashed squash? Why doesn't anybody consider my feelings? THIS IS WHY I DRINK)
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (2 tablespoons of water). Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes (this is the first time I've ever seen yeast described as "creamy." I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it)
  3. In a large bowl (I used the Kitchenaid for this, so I just used the mixing bowl) combine the yeast mixture with milk, butter, 1 cup mashed squash, 1 egg, brown sugar, salt and 2 cups of the flour; stir well to combine. Stir in remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time (I used 1/4 cup at a time just to be spiteful), 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 (I just used the dough hook on the mixer for this. I don't have time for needless manual labor)
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl; place dough in 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. 
  5. Deflate the dough ("Deflate?" It makes it sound like you're working with an air mattress. When I work with dough, I "punch it down." It's what Chuck Norris would do)
    Told you so.
  6. This section describes how to cut the dough and get it braided. I consider it a Pain In The Ass (PITA) and will not waste the time or space typing it. Instead, I'm going to just link you the YouTube video the wife used to learn. It obviously works. You're going to want to split the dough in half first. You're looking to make 2 loaves here. Once you figure out the braiding, cover the loaves and let rise for another 30 minutes on a greased baking sheet.
  7. In a small bowl, beat together remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush loaves with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350F (we went with 25 minutes and the bread came out great)
Good times!

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