As soon as fall arrives, I go into a quick bread frenzy until springtime. I cycle through every kind of muffin and loaf imaginable, like this Butternut Squash Bread with Pecan Streusel, dazzled by their simplicity and comforting flavors and textures.
While pumpkin gets all the attention in sweet dishes, butternut squash is better in many baked goods. It’s naturally sweeter and creamier and adds a moist richness to this delightful bread.
Butternut squash bread hits all the right notes for a breakfast loaf—moist but tender, sweet but not too sweet. It has just the right amount of spice, enough to celebrate the season without overpowering the squash.
Equal parts of oil and butter ensure a flavorful loaf that will stay moist for days. And with a crispy and nutty streusel top, it’s pretty enough for a bakery shop window. It’s a low-key, low-stress weekend project or weeknight bake (especially since it tastes even better the next day). There’s nothing better on a chilly morning paired with tea or coffee.
I like to roast butternut squash when making purée for a few reasons. First, it’s easy and largely hands-off, results in the best flavor, and gives a nice texture to the finished bread. Of course, you could boil, or microwave cubed squash instead, but these methods often introduce unwanted moisture into the purée and make the bread gummy.
Luckily, you can roast the squash up to two days ahead of time. Cool and tightly wrap the halves in plastic wrap. Or go ahead and make the purée and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
This recipe calls for roasting whole butternut squash. However, you won’t end up using all of it. It’s easy to double the recipe if you’d like to make two loaves and use most roasted squash. Otherwise, there are plenty of delicious ways to utilize the leftovers:
Leftover butternut squash purée also freezes well for up to three months, so you can save the excess to make bread another day.
While the recipe calls for roasting the squash, you can use canned butternut squash purée. Canned pumpkin will also work in a pinch, although I think the flavor, texture, and color of butternut squash are superior in this bread.
This recipe is easy to adapt to your tastes. Here are some ideas to get you started:
No Nuts: Leave them out if you have a pecan allergy or don’t care for them. The streusel top without the pecans will still add a crispy element.
Extra Nuts: If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and love nuts, you can add more chopped pecans to the batter (up to 1/2 cup). Fold them in at the end. Walnuts also work well in the topping and the batter.
No Topping: Leave off the streusel topping for a less sweet, more traditional loaf. I recommend adding another 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and, if you’d like a bit of texture, add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts to the batter.
Chocolate Chips: For extra decadent bread, fold in up to 1/2 cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips.
Non-Dairy: To make this bread dairy-free, swap the butter in the bread for equal amounts of oil, and swap the butter in the topping for non-dairy butter (or leave off the topping). I don’t recommend swapping out the oil in the batter with butter because an all-butter bread loses its moisture quickly.
Let the bread cool completely before wrapping it for storage to keep the topping crisp. It will stay moist for about four days at room temperature.
You can also freeze it, but the topping gets slightly soggy once defrosted. So instead, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a zip-top freezer bag, squeezing out all the air. Freeze it for up to two months. Then, defrost it in the fridge before serving.
While this recipe calls for one whole squash, you’ll only end up using 1 cup of it after roasting and puréeing. The leftover roasted squash can be added to soup, salads, smoothies, or frozen when you want to make this bread. You could also use store-bought, pre-cut butternut squash or canned squash purée.
Preheat the oven to 350°F with the oven rack set to the middle. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out using a large spoon. Rub both halves with the oil and place them cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet.
Roast the squash until you can easily pierce the thickest part with a sharp knife, 40 to 50 minutes. Carefully flip over the squash and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
Leave the oven on.
Scoop out the flesh and add it to a food processor. Discard the peel. Purée the squash, scraping down the sides once or twice, until smooth. Measure out 1 cup (250g) for the recipe and store the rest for another use.
Return the 1 cup of squash to the food processor for the bread. Set this aside while you make the streusel.
Make the streusel:
Combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, mix in the melted butter until a crumbly dough forms. Add the pecans and use your hands to toss and distribute evenly. Set it aside.
Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and line the bottom and sides with a strip of parchment paper, forming a sling. Make sure the piece hangs over both sides—this will make removing the bread from the pan easier.
To the 1 cup of butternut squash purée in the food processor, add the sugar, brown sugar, oil, melted butter, eggs, water, and vanilla—process to mix, scraping down the sides once.
Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to break up any lumps.
Add the butternut squash mixture into the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix just until combined. A few small lumps of flour are okay.
Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top.
Bake it until well-risen, and the streusel has browned for about 1 hour. A cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center to the bottom should emerge clean without any liquid batter. A few crumbs are okay.
Let the bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then, use the parchment sling to lift it out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.
If you like this recipe, then I would suggest that you should try this recipe too: Overnight Milk Bread Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
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