The squash situation has gotten a little out of hand. This week’s CSA share, the last of the season (sniffle), brought the count up to a dozen–six delicata, one butternut, one acorn, one turban, one pumpkin and three kabocha squash to be specific.
I also had some fresh sage that was threatening to turn to dust after three weeks in the crisper. (It’s been a busy month.) The sage was grown at La Finca del Sur and purchased at the South Bronx Farmers Market, which Lily Kesselman and her neighbors started this year to bring farm fresh fruits and vegetables to their corner of New York City. I spent a delightfully sunny fall afternoon learning what it takes to start a community-led farmers’ market and chatting with Freddy in between sales of his collards, fresh herbs and late season tomatoes.
Kabocha Squash & Sage Bread
- 1 medium kabocha squash
- 10 tablespoons butter (plus a little extra for greasing your pan)
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves
- 2 cups flour (plus a little for dusting your pan)
- 2 teaspoons apple pie spice (or, if you didn’t happen to just get a free bottle of this in the mail because you inadvertently ordered a totally insane quantity of bay leaves and coriander seeds, you can use 1 teaspoon cinnamon plus a little nutmeg and whatever other baking spices you have on hand)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 400 (or 205 if, two years on, you still haven’t figured out how to switch your oven back to Fahrenheit). Cut the squash in half and scoop the innards into a bowl. Cut the halves into quarters and place in a roasting pan. Cook for 40 minutes or so, until the squash is lightly browned and fork tender.
- BONUS RECIPE: While your squash cooks, remove the squash seeds from the guts as best you can. Rinse the seeds in a colander, which will help remove a bit more of the guts, but don’t sweat it if you don’t get them perfectly clean. Toss the seeds with a heaping tablespoon of coconut oil, a couple of tablespoons of sugar, a little cinnamon and cayenne, and a healthy pinch of salt. Spread the seeds onto a baking sheet (lined with foil if you’re lazy like me) and pop into the oven along with your squash. Make sure to check on these regularly, as they’ll go from toasted to burnt pretty quickly. (One suspects that a lower oven temperature would help, but we’re trying to be efficient here!)
- Meanwhile, melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a very small saucepan over low heat. Roughly chop the sage and add it to your melted butter. Let cook for five minutes or so and then remove from heat. You want the butter to get golden and give off of a sage aroma, but avoid burning the leaves.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a small bowl.
- When the squash is done, drop the oven to 350 (175 Celsius, which you think I would have memorized by now) and remove the pan. Peel the skin from your roasted squash. (This will be infinitely easier if you let it cool first. But, if you made the ill-advised choice to start a baking project at 10:00pm on a school night, a large spoon should help get the job done with only minimal damage to your fingertips.) Drop the squash into the food processor and purée until smooth.
- Stir the squash, sugar, eggs and sage butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add the flour mixture in batches and stir until incorporated.
- Use the butter you failed to return to the fridge to grease a loaf pan. Swipe some of the flour spilled across the kitchen counter into your pan and shake to coat. Scoop your batter into the pan and pop it in the oven. Let bake for 45-50 minutes, until the loaf is nicely browned and a butter knife stuck inside comes out reasonably clean. (Another 5 minutes probably wouldn’t hurt, but damn, it’s getting late!)
In the interest of time, you’ll want to take care of the dishes while your bread bakes. I recommend starting with the spatula you used to scoop the batter out of the bowl.
By the time you finish cleaning up and write your blog post, the bread should be done. Let it cool for a bit and then gently pop it out of the pan. Not being much of a baker, I have no idea why there is a raised platform in the center of the loaf. I’d be ever so curious if yours comes out the same.
Odd protuberance or not, this bread will be very good–so much so that there will only be a small slice left on the office snack table by the time you get out of your morning meetings. Fortunately, this will be enough to ward off starvation during your next meeting.