I never fancied myself much of a baker but I have to admit, I’m really coming around to it- especially when I can find savoury ways to play on baking. I still can’t compel myself to spend much time on cakes, I’ll leave that wizardry to Chelsea, but savoury carbs? I’m officially into it.
My recent forays into ‘woven carbohydrate artistry’ (specifically this Vegetarian Samosa Braid) were so easy but so fabulous looking (and so delicious), it inspired me to get back into the kitchen and keep running with this theme. Such minimal effort but it looks SO COOL.
(Also, it allows me to practice my step-by-step instruction photography… practice makes perfect, right?)
Step 2: Cut it in half. Look at that, you’re already on step 2! I’m having a great time already.
Step 3: Flour your surface- squash dough is softer and holds a little more moisture than regular bread dough, so get liberal with the dusting if you find it’s sticking. Roll one of the halves out into a rectangle and top with all of the deliciousness. Roll it up from the short edge in, like a delicious cheese-filled jelly roll. Repeat with the second lump of dough.
Step 4: Excellent, we’ve got our two little rolls. Take an extra sharp knife and cut each roll, lengthwise. Ooooh, look at all that filling… I’m tempted to eat some now, but- having gone down that road as a child- I know the uncooked dough would continue to rise in my stomach and give me one heck of a belly ache. Still… it looks so good…
Step 5: I definitely didn’t pick at the filling. Not even a bit. Maybe just a piece of cheese or two. It was falling out anyway. Pinch the ends of the sliced roll together and ‘braid’ them together, one over the other, pinching together the ends at the bottom.
Step 6: Place each twist in a loaf pan lined with parchment paper or butter and bake. At this point, your entire house will fill with enchanting baking smells. Fight the urge to eat the rest of the smoked cheddar in the fridge, the wait will be worth it, I promise.
Ta-daaaaa! Roll up to your Thanksgiving dinner with two of these in tow and I promise, no one’s going to put you on potato mashing duty. Okay, they might put you on mashed potato duty. You’ll probably be put in charge of cutting little x’s in the base of the Brussels sprouts, too.
But you get the idea, people are gonna be impressed- even more so when they rip (or slice) into it and taste the hidden layers of happy underneath the surface.
I have my favourites on the to-do list- stuffing, Brussels Sprouts, vinegar roasted root veg– but I also like to make sure everyone else at the table gets their faves, too. My sister is easy, she has the same favourites I do. My mum will be pleased if I work something weird and non-traditional into the mix. Colin would be happy with a full glass of wine and an equally full glass of gravy.
My in-laws are traditionalists, so I think as long as we have a turkey and mashers at the table, I should be okay. My sister-in-law… her thing is buns. Buns at the table.
I didn’t grow up with buns at any table, let alone a Thanksgiving one, but I do love my bread products. This is an easy request to accommodate. Well… sort of. These may not be buns, but they are bread! Thanksgiving bread! To mop things up with!
… this twisty squash bread counts, right? It’s bun-like.
Also, I think this might count towards my mum’s request for ‘something non-traditional.’ Two birds, one stone! I know the adage says ‘you can’t please everyone’ but on this Thanksgiving, to give thanks for all the lovely people in my life, I can at least try. 🙂
|Twisted Squash Bread with Smoked Cheddar, Red Onion & Sage|| |
- Squash bread:
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp warm water
- ⅓ cup warm milk
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 cup cooked, mashed squash (acorn, butternut or red kuri/red hubbard)
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 cups flour
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted
- 3 Tbsp honey mustard
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh sage, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups Applewood Smoked Cheddar, grated
- In a small bowl, combine yeast and warm water. Set aside until foamy.
- In a large bowl, combine squash, milk, butter, salt, egg, brown sugar, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour. Add additional flour slowly as needed until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, roughly 8-10 minutes. If the dough is sticking, sprinkle additional flour in as needed. Squash dough will be softer and more moist than regular bread dough so don't be afraid of dusting with more flour if you find it's too sticky.
- Place kneaded dough in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
- Melt a knob of butter in a medium pan and cook onions until soft but not caramelized- roughly 10 minutes. Set aside. Prep the rest of your mise-en-place (walnuts, sage, cheddar). Combine melted butter and mustard in a bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350. Line two loaf pans with butter or parchment paper (both work really well, it's just a matter of convenience and personal preference).
- Punch down the risen squash dough and cut into two portions. On a floured surface, roll one of the portions out into a rectangular shape. Brush with butter/mustard sauce. Sprinkle half the onions, walnuts, sage and cheddar on to the rectangle and the roll it up from the short edge in creating a tight 'jelly roll'. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
- Using a very sharp knife, cut eat jelly roll of dough in half lengthwise. Pinch the ends of each halved roll together and braid them, one over the other, finishing the other end by pinching that dough together. Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rise a second time for approximately an hour.
- Place a twist in each of the loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time so they cook evenly. If the bread is browning too fast, move it to a lower rack in the oven and cover the top with a piece of aluminium foil.
- Let the loaves cool in the pan for 5 minutes before running a knife along the edge of the loaf and removing it from the pan. Serve warm- sliced or torn- with a scrape of butter or more honey mustard!