Butternut Squash and Cranberry Bread

I'm back home in Indiana enjoying winter break. I've been back since Saturday and I'm doing well to remember what relaxation really is. For me, true relaxation involves cooking, which seemed like an indulgence for me over the last month of busyness. One of the first things I prepared while home was a recipe my mom has been wanting to prepare for a while. It was featured in the magazine Taste of Home: Simple and Delicious. It was supposed to be Cranberry and Pumpkin Bread, but due to some strange events the recipes took a few changes. One of the strangest changes involved using butternut squash because, as one fellow shopper at the grocery store told us, there is a shortage in pumpkin this year...which sounds very strange indeed. The other not so strange change made involved using walnuts instead of pecans because we forgot to buy them. Nevertheless, this bread was a triumph of ingenuity: a nicely spiced bread featuring two popular holiday flavors---butternut squash and cranberries.

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Bread

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs
2 cups butternut squash puree*
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup unbleached sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts

* To prepare the squash puree, cut a medium butternut squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop the seeds out. Place the squash halves, cut side down, into a large bowl containing about 1/2-inch of water in the bottom. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave the squash for 15 minutes or until the flesh is soft and scoopable. Discard the skin and mash the pulp. Allow the pulp to cool to room temperature before proceeding.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and add the squash, oil, sugars, and vanilla. Blend well, then fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.
4. Pour the batter into two greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pans. Bake 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the loaves 10 minutes in the pans, then remove to continue to cool on a wire rack.

Servings per recipe: 24
Per slice:
Calories: 223
Fat: 12.9 g
Saturated fat: 1.1 g
Cholesterol: 23 mg
Sodium: 159 mg
Carbohydrates: 24.1 g
Fiber: 1.3 g
Sugar: 10 g
Protein: 3.7 g

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