Savoury, buttery cornbread made from the flesh of roasted butternut squash. This cold-weather staple pairs well with any soup, stew, or chili, and is a wonderful way to feature squash at your table this season. Bonus: this recipe makes a double batch so you can freeze a loaf for later!
I absolutely love the vegetables that are associated with fall. Carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, potatoes, yams — these veggies scream comfort food to me. Another autumn veggie I’ve come to love recently is squash. A couple of years ago, I didn’t think much of squash. My mom had never cooked with it when I was growing up, so I didn’t have a lot of experience with it. I had tasted butternut squash soup and various forms of squash purée at restaurants, but because that’s all I had ever been exposed to I thought that those two dishes were all you could do with it. And honestly, I wasn’t crazy about either dish. It wasn’t until I went to Australia and started experimenting with other vegetables, fruit, and meat that I had never seen before that I thought to try it. (Sorry, Aussie friends, it’s a squash. Not a pumpkin!)
I bought my first butternut squash from a local Canberra market, brought it home, and proceeded to stare at it in the fridge for three or four days. Every night I had the same questions. What was I supposed to do with it? I guess I could roast it. But how? Do you roast it whole like a yam? Do you cut it open? How do you get past that hard shell? Do I use a peeler? In the end, I decided to go simple for my first attempt and voted to roast it. YouTube helped me out in the prep process, and by the time dinner rolled around, my boyfriend and I had a side of roasted butternut squash! I tell ya, the feeling you get when you conquer something new in the kitchen is thrilling. Even if it’s something as simple as roasting your very first squash. I threw a little butter on it, some nutmeg, ginger, salt, and pepper, and we gobbled it up. After that, I made quite a few butternut dishes.
Fast forward to fall 2015 in Canada. Because my family doesn’t eat a lot of squash, I decided I’d show them how wonderful and versatile this autumn vegetable can be. From my experience, I knew that it could be quite sweet and a little fibrous. Two things my family (my brother in particular) don’t like much when it comes to dinner. They prefer completely savoury meals without stringy bits. I knew they weren’t going to like pure roasted squash, so I had to hide it.
In her cookbook Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, Aimée Wimbush-Bourque has a recipe for Zucchini Cornbread. It was one of the first recipes I made from her book and loved it to bits. It’s everything I love in a good cornbread — hearty and buttery, but not too sweet — and she sneaks veggies into a normally unwholesome side. How could you not love it? I decided to play with her recipe and adapt it for butternut squash. My family loves cornbread, so I knew they’d go for it, even if it did feature a foreign vegetable.
This Roasted Butternut Squash Cornbread was a smashing success at our dinner table. Every ingredient in this quick bread is natural and unrefined, making it a better alternative to the packaged kind. I made it more savoury by omitting quite a bit of sugar, since the squash was already sweet from caramelizing in the oven. If you prefer a sweeter cornbread, you will find an option to add more sweetener at the bottom of the recipe. I also threw in some nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, which I found really enhanced the squash and made it stand out against the flavour of the cornmeal.
If you’re like me and have been staring at that squash in your fridge for a few days, this cornbread is your answer. Defrost some soup from the freezer, grab a couple buttered slices of this bread, and you have a perfect autumn supper. Enjoy!
- 1 small butternut squash
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups cornmeal
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 500g roasted butternut squash purée
- 4 eggs
- 3--6 tbsp honey*
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- To roast the squash, preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) and lightly coat a baking tray with non-stick spray. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place the squash, cut side up, on the baking tray and drizzle the oil over the two halves. Season the halves with salt and pepper and place in the oven to roast for 65--75 minutes, or until a knife slides easily through the flesh. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool on the tray. Once the squash has cooled, peel the skin from the halves, place the flesh in a blender, and blend until puréed. Alternatively, you can mash the roasted squash really well with a potato masher.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) and lightly coat two 9 x 5 x 2.5 loaf tins with butter and line with parchment paper. Be sure to allow a bit of overhang for easy removal.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together the squash purée, eggs, and honey until emulsified. Add in the milk and butter and whisk until combined. Make a well at the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet to it. Stir until all the dry ingredients disappear and then divide the batter between the two prepared tins. Bake the cornbread for 40--50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm with butter.
- This cornbread will keep in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. This bread also freezes well, sealed in an airtight container, for up to 2 months.
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