Sunday, August 17, 2014

Macrina Bakery Squash Harvest Loaf


Macrina is a VERY popular bakery on 1st Avenue in Seattle in the Belltown neighborhood.  They make this quick bread from roasted butternut squash called Harvest Bread.  It's similar to pumpkin bread but not as sweet and has kind of more of an "earthy" flavor.  It has toasted pecans, walnuts and pumpkin seeds in the bread and also sprinkled on top before baking.  For pumpkin bread I simply open a can of Libby's Pumpkin but for this bread I bought some fresh butternut squash from Carpinito Farms in Kent.  The squash I bought was fairly small so I bought 5 of them.  I needed 2 cups of pureed squash per recipe and I was making a double recipe so I wanted to be sure I had enough.  My squash roasted in a 400 degree oven for 1.5 hours before it was fork tender. Then I had to let it cool for awhile and then I had to peel it and puree it in a food processor.  I had a little over 4 cups.  I ate the remainder few spoonfuls with a little brown sugar and salt & butter. Yum!  

But anyway, because of the squash puree preparation, this bread took hella looong time!   But it was worth it.  This bread is so tender and so flavorful.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I made extra loaves to give some away as gifts.  I figured if I am going though hours of preparation, then I'm making extra!  Next time I might add another teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter.  I could taste it but I think it could have been a bit stronger.  I did not have any pecans so I left those out but I used extra walnuts and pumpkin seeds.   Actually, I really wanted pecans but they were so expensive, even at Grocery Outlet, that I figured I would leave them out.

I highly highly recommend this wonderful autumn like quick bread.  And if you can take the time to roast your own squash and puree it, it will really stand out in the flavor of the bread!  I do not find this bread extra sweet. I've read other reviews where bakers mentioned cutting down on the sugar amount called for.   I don't think it would be sweet enough if I did that.  So I prefer to leave in the full amount called for.


I halved the squash vertically, scooped out the seeds & stringy fibers, placed on a foil lined baking sheet with a big pan of water underneath (for steam- keeps squash moist). Baked at 400 degrees for 1.5 hours.  I tested for doneness with a fork.


I toasted pumpkin seeds and walnuts at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  I used pumpkin seeds with sea salt on them. 


My squash took awhile in the food processor to get a consistent pureed texture.  I kept finding little chunks.  Had to poke around with my spatula to make sure all the chunks were pureed.










I was kind of heavy handed with the nuts on top.  The recipe called for less on each loaf but I just sprinkled till it felt right.  I toasted more than enough nuts so I had plenty.




The nuts on the inside of the bread were ground.  I didn't use a food processor for this.  I simply put the already toasted nuts in a plastic bag then proceeded to hit with the flat side of a mallet till they were uniform very small pieces.





Macrina Bakery Squash Harvest Loaf
(for 2 loaves)
You need:
  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash purée*
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
Roasting the butternut squash.
  • Wash and cut the squash in two halves, remove the seeds and place the halves in a rimmed baking sheet, face up, with 1 cup water in the pan. Cook in a preheated oven at 375 F for 1 hour minimum, until the flesh is fork tender.
  • Remove and let cool down before scooping the squash out.
  • Place in a food processor and mix smoothly.
  • Let cool down and use 2 cups for 2 loaves. Keep the rest in the fridge for 3 days max, or freeze it for future times.
Making the loaves
  • Place the nuts and seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 15 mns. Remove from the oven and let cool down before grinding them, medium. Keep 1/4 cup on the side, for the decoration.
  • Turn the oven temperature down to 325 F.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.
  • Add the seeds, minus 1/4 cup. Mix with a wooden spoon.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oil and two types of sugar and use the paddle attachment to mix on medium speed, for 4 mns.
  • Add the roasted butternut squash and continue to mix for 2 mns.
  • Then, add one egg at a time.
  • Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add the flour and the buttermilk alternatively, until the liquid is absorb each time.
  • Transfer the preparation in 2 oiled loaf pans measuring 9 x 5 x 3″, 2/3 to the top.
  • Sprinkle with the reserved seeds.
  • Cook in the oven for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out dry once inserted in the loaf. Remove and let cool for 20 mns before unmolding on a cooling rack.


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