You don’t need me to tell you that squash is a superfood, packed with carotenoids, particularly beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. And you already know that squash is high in fibre, potassium, vitamin C and magnesium, that it is important for good vision, bone growth and healthy reproduction, and that it helps maintain healthy blood pressure, lowers cancer risk, and boosts immune function. Bottom line, you’ll agree: we should all be eating more of it.
So, in addition to turning squash into soups, adding it to stews and risottos, stuffing it into pasta, and just plain roasting it, squash can be a key ingredient in baked goods, such as this Pumpkin Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl, tweaked ever so slightly from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, by Amy Chaplin.
Almost everything in this quick bread is good for you: there’s the squash, of course, in this case dense-fleshed kabocha. There’s also whole spelt flour, olive oil, almond milk, walnuts and just a touch of maple syrup. The bread itself is barely sweet, but the cinnamon walnut swirl that zigzags down its length provides a lovely kick of sweetness, just enough to transform this from a vegetable dish to a dessert bread to be enjoyed with your morning coffee or afternoon tea.
Any winter squash, including butternut, will work in this recipe, but Chaplin prefers squash like kabocha and red kuri because of their lower water content.
- 1 cup toasted walnut halves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons maple sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in ½-inch dice (about 3½ cups)
- 2 cups sprouted spelt flour or whole spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder or regular baking powder
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons almond milk or plain soy milk
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 egg, beaten
- Place walnuts, cinnamon, maple sugar, and maple syrup in a bowl; mix to combine and set aside.
- Steam squash for 10 to 12 minutes or until soft. Place in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Measure out 1½ cups and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a loaf pan and line bottom and two longer sides with a sheet of parchment paper; set aside.
- Sift spelt flour and baking powder into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add olive oil, maple syrup, almond milk, salt, vanilla, and egg to the mashed squash; whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into squash mixture until just combined. Spread half of batter over bottom of loaf pan. Layer cinnamon-walnut mixture evenly over batter and top with remaining batter. To create a swirl, use a small rubber spatula or butter knife to zigzag back and forth through the batter (across pan) and one stroke straight through the centre of the loaf (lengthwise).
- Place in oven, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow loaf to sit 5 minutes before turning out and placing on a wire rack. Slice and serve warm.