Not suuuuuure if it’s obvious, but I really love the combination of sage and maple. And onion. And bacon (although that’s not featured in this recipe, but I wanted to mention it anyway. Hi, bacon!). And squash. So when I discovered this squash bread over at Port and Fin (super cute pair of west coast friends who mastermind some very yummy-looking recipes), I knew it must find a home in my belly.
Normally, I don’t eat much bread; it’s one of those empty carb situations that must really complement a meal for me to find it worthwhile. I sort of put white bread in the same category as vanilla ice cream: unless it has 12 kinds of mix-ins (peanut butter cups, caramel swirl, fudge crackle, mint chocolate fudge, brownies, Oreos, marshmallow swirl, nutella, an entire slice of apple pie, etc), I’m not really interested.
What you see here is what would happen if there were such a thing as Bread Goji’s (should there be such a thing? Dibs on the idea): I basically took all my favourite savoury ingredients & threw them into a softly sweetened dough.
I found this bread so tempting that I couldn’t even wait the millisecond it takes to snap a photo before tearing off a piece of the edge to taste (see top of photo):
I encourage you to do the same.
Because I’m not a fan of mustard, and walnuts make my mouth sore, I swapped the honey mustard out for maple syrup, and kept things nut-free.
I also didn’t have any smoked cheddar, so I just used shredded “old” cheddar.
After a little kneading, rising, slicing, twisting, sautéing and baking (it sounds MUCH more complicated than it is, but it IS bread, so you will have to wait around for it to rise, etc. It’s an awesome weekend or stormy evening project!), I ended up with 2 beautiful loaves of ever-so-sweet, rich and dense golden yellow dough, studded with savoury fresh sage, sweet caramelized onions, melty, creamy, stretchy cheddar cheese, and delicately enriched with a sweet, glistening melted butter and maple syrup sauce.
I actually made this bread twice: once with canned pumpkin puree, white flour, and fresh sage (pictured here), and once with pureed roasted butternut squash, whole wheat flour, and dried sage.
Both were really good, but I would heavily recommend trying to recipe as described here (pumpkin or squash interchangeable). White flour is subtle enough to allow all the amazing flavours to shine through, and fresh sage is just so much more powerful and earthy than anything dried.
For some reason, none of the loaves I made ever “doubled in size”, or really much at all, during the rising stage, but I baked ’em anyway.
They turned out kind of flatter than I would have expected, but they smelled, looked, and tasted ahhhhhmazing.
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp warm water
- ⅓ cup warm milk
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 cup cooked & mashed squash (any kind) or pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 - 4 cups flour
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
- 2 cups old cheddar, grated
- In a small bowl, combine yeast and warm water. Set aside until foamy.
- In a large bowl, combine squash, milk, butter, salt, egg, brown sugar, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour. Add additional flour slowly as needed until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, roughly 8-10 minutes. If the dough is sticking, sprinkle additional flour in as needed. Squash dough will be softer and more moist than regular bread dough so don't be afraid of dusting with more flour if you find it's too sticky.
- Place kneaded dough in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
- Melt a knob of butter in a medium pan and cook onions until caramelized- roughly 20 minutes. Set aside. Prep the remaining mix-ins: sage, cheddar, maple butter (Combine melted butter and maple syrup in a bowl).
- Preheat oven to 350. Line two loaf pans with butter or parchment paper.
- Punch down the risen squash dough and cut into two portions. On a floured surface, roll one of the portions out into a rectangular shape. Brush with butter/maple sauce. Sprinkle half the onions, sage and cheddar on to the rectangle and the roll it up from the short edge in creating a tight 'jelly roll'. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
- Using a very sharp knife, cut eat jelly roll of dough in half lengthwise. Pinch the ends of each halved roll together and braid them, one over the other, finishing the other end by pinching that dough together. Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rise a second time for approximately an hour.
- Place a twist in each of the loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time so they cook evenly. If the bread is browning too fast, move it to a lower rack in the oven and cover the top with a piece of aluminium foil.
- Let the loaves cool in the pan for 5 minutes before running a knife along the edge of the loaf and removing it from the pan. Serve warm.