Kabocha Squash Gingerbread
October 16, 2010 by
Today’s recipe was inspired by an opera scene I am performing in this weekend — the opening scene of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Just like in the Brothers’ Grimm fairy tale, the two children get lost in the forest and happen upon an enormous gingerbread house inhabited by an evil witch. They cannot resist taking a nibble of the house, and they are immediately captured by the witch, who turns young children into gingerbread men! Eventually, through a little bit of clever trickery, Hansel and Gretel beat the witch at her own game, managing to escape and free the gingerbread children, too.
You cannot tell that this gingerbread is healthier than average, except that it is a bit less sweet than usual — I prefer my dessert breads a little lighter on the sugar than most recipes call for. Feel free to add another quarter cup of honey if you like things on the sweeter side. Yogurt and pureed winter squash add moisture without fat, so you won’t miss the butter or oil called for in most gingerbread recipes. I also used whole wheat flour instead of the traditional all-purpose — Giusto’s high protein whole wheat flour is finely milled, so you won’t end up with the gritty texture of regular whole wheat flour.
While many use canned pumpkin for convenience’s sake, I chose to go with a more sumptuous squash — the delicious and velvety kabocha. Japanese in origin, they look like squat, forest-green pumpkins with jade green stripes. Their texture is silky and lovely, the most dense and sweet of the readily available winter squashes. To make a squash puree, just cut a kabocha into wedges and bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, peel and mash the wedges. Just like that, you’ve got a squash puree that’s far superior to anything you can buy in a can. It also freezes extremely well, so go ahead and make a big batch to use for baking projects in the coming months. Just use an ice cream scoop to dole out portions onto a cookie sheet, freeze solid, then put the scoops of squash into a freezer bag for later use.
Winter Squash Gingerbread
1 C. (9 oz) kabocha squash puree
2 large eggs
1/2 C. plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 C. molasses
1/4 C. clover honey
1/4 C. water
1 1/2 C. (10.25 oz) whole wheat high protein flour
2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
powdered sugar, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and butter and flour a 9″ square pyrex baking dish.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Use an immersion blender to blend them completely.
3. Fold in the dry ingredients and stir until evenly incorporated.
4. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, then use an offset spatula to smooth the surface evenly. Batter will be thick.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or the internal temperature is 200F.
6. Cool for at least an hour, slice, and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.