Butternut squash maple walnut flax bread. It’s a mouthful before you take the first bite. I’m aware. But as cake-for-breakfast goes, it sure does have its virtues. It’s really pretty good for you, and I’m not even counting the workout you’ll get telling people what you ate. The tongue is the strongest muscle, you know. (Or at least people like to say it is. Wikipedia disagrees, nominating instead the butt, uterus, jaw, or eyeball, depending on how you look at it. Probably the tongue myth persists because of all the freakishly strong-tongued yammerers who won’t stop spreading the word. Don’t you think?) For the record, I’m not counting the mental gymnastics you just performed reading that parenthetical, either.
When you’re eating cake for breakfast, though, you’re probably not doing it for the nutritional profile. Nor should you be. You should be doing it for the festivity, the comfort, the autumnal splendor or the wintry wonder of it all. You should be doing it because you can’t make it to Starbucks that day for your dearly beloved Peppermint Mocha, or because you despise Starbucks with all your heart, or both. You should be doing it because spreading a goodly schmear of cream cheese on your morning oatmeal would be prohibitively messy, or prohibitively disgusting, or what have you.
But you’re not the type to let other people tell you why you should do things, are you? I’m aware. And I value that in you, I really do.
Alright, enough about you, though. Sheesh. Let’s talk me for a minute. I want you to know how hard I worked to get this bread just right for you and the Thanksgiving sleepover guests you plan to feed it to on Black Friday morning, before or instead of sending them out to shop for your holiday gift. Instead of, because you might only ask for honeybees; but before, because then again you’ve kind of already cut your losses and decided to ask for a new Apple TV. Did you know that Apple TV streams Netflix now? Honeybees simply cannot do that.
Anyway. I had to test this recipe numerous times to get it right for you. The first loaf—the one I tried, admirably if I do say so, to pack with your full RDA of squash—was wet inside, and we ate it anyway. The second loaf tasted really good right up until the long finish, at which point it started to taste a little like brushing your teeth with baking soda. I planned to throw away that loaf in the morning when it had cooled sufficiently. But Umami Boy wakes up at the crack of ass to go to work, and for whatever reason he didn’t read my mind about the whole throwing the bread away situation. He ate it for breakfast and didn’t even complain, because he so wants you to have that Apple TV if you want it.
This, though, is the third loaf. The third loaf turned out just the way you’ve always dreamed your butternut squash maple walnut flax bread would be. It’s just the right amount sweet, just the right amount moist, just the right amount browned, and just the right amount convincing. It’s pretty much perfect the way it is, although you might want to consider buttering it up (you know, instead of using cream cheese) if you’ve really got your heart set on watching the whole fourth season of Mad Men marathon-style on your new Apple TV on December 26. And, honestly? Since this bread uses maple syrup as its only sweetener, it’s not like the world will really need those honeybees, anyway.
That’s how it works, right?
Butternut Squash Maple Walnut Flax Bread
-Makes one loaf. Note: this recipe also makes a lovely banana bread if you substitute mashed banana for the butternut squash puree and omit the cloves.-
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 cup butternut squash puree
1/4 cup walnut oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the center. Lightly grease a medium (8-cup) loaf pan with walnut oil. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl, combine the eggs, butternut squash puree, maple syrup, walnut oil and vanilla extract. Start the mixer on low to avoid splashing, then beat on medium speed for two minutes. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in the walnuts.
3. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for about 65 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.