Jam on it: shaker squash bread

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You may have a bunch of these hangers-on from your summer garden that are just about ready to jump. or you might have been caught in the eye at your local farmstore by a few too many of these gorgeous gourds. or maybe, you just like the smell of damn good bread wafting through your kitchen on a cold winter morn.

shaker squash bread

adapted from country breads of the world by linda colister
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
scant 1/2 cup sugar (i use raw)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 2 & 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast (that’s 1 packet of the kind you find in the grocery store)
1 & 1 /2 heaping cups mashed winter squash, room temperature*
4 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups all purpose-white flour
2 large eggs, room temperature, whisked
melted butter for brushing the top after baking
2 loaf pans, approximately 9x5x3, greased1. heat milk and 4 tablespoons butter just until butter melts. let cool, stir in salt & sugar.

2. combine yeast with half of the flour, add milk mixture and stir until completely combined. you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon, or in a stand mixture on medium low for about 2 minutes.

3. add squash mash and whisked eggs, stir until combined.

4. gradually work in remainder of flour until the dough is firm but not dry and is lifting from the sides of the bowl. you may not need all of the flour.

5. if you are using a stand mixer with dough hook, turn it up to medium and let it run for 7 minutes. if mixing by hand, turn the dough out to a lightly floured surface and knead for 7-8 minutes.

6. place the dough in a lightly greased bowl – you can do this with a flavorless oil – and flip so that both sides of dough are greased. cover with a damp dish towel, and let sit for approximately 1 & 1/2 hours, until dough looks as if it has doubled in size.

7. once risen, press the dough down firmly in the center. divide the dough in half and shape into sandwich loaves. place in loaf pans and cover with a damp dish cloth.

8. let loaves rise for about 1 hour, until they look as if they have doubled in size. at 45 minutes, preheat oven to 400 degrees. if you have a baking stone, you should put it in the oven.

9. bake loves for 35-40 minutes. very important: for the best rise, do not open the oven for the first 10 minutes. switch the positions of the loaves halfway through to insure even baking. bake until the tops are a deep golden brown.

to determine if breads are fully baked you’ll want to pop the breads out of the pans immediately after removal from the oven, silicone gloves or the like are best for this job. breads are done if you hear a hollow sound when tapping the bottom, if not put them back in the oven, unmolded, for 5 additional minutes.

10. brush the tops with melted butter and let cool completely on a wire rack.

this bread is best eaten within 4 days, toasted thereafter, or frozen for up to 1 month. when toasted it has a tender crunch that melds perfectly with your jam of choice. it’s also just right for all manner of sandwich bread uses. it’s a staple in my kitchen every winter around this time, when my winter squash are getting antsy. plus how cool, it’s a real shaker recipe!

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