Vegetarian Holiday Fare: Winter Squash Herb Bread

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This savory loaf presents a pairing of herbs that is rarely seen but interestingly compatible. Adventurous cooks will undoubtedly want to pursue the combination of sage and dill, with or without the healthy dose of garlic, in recipes other than bread.

• 1/2 cup milk
• 1/4 cup butter or margarine
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 tablespoon baking yeast
• 1/4 cup warm water
• 3 cups unbleached flour
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 cup finely grated winter squash
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh or
• 1 tablespoon dried sage
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh or
• 1/2 tablespoon dried dill weed
• 4 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the milk, butter, and sugar in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add 2 cups of flour and the eggs, squash, sage, dill, garlic, and salt. Mix slightly to combine ingredients. When the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, stir it in with the rest of the ingredients to form a sticky ball.

3. Add the remaining flour 1/3 cup at a time, mixing to moisten each addition, until the dough becomes smooth. It will be wet and slightly sticky. Cover your hands with a little flour, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly.

4. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased loaf pan. It can also be divided into small balls to make dinner rolls (place on a lightly greased cookie sheet or in a muffin tin). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has more than doubled, about 1 to 11/2 hours. While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 275°F.

5. Place the risen dough in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the sides slightly brown, an hour or 70 minutes. Check the sides by pulling the bread out of the pan. When done, cool bread on a wire rack, then serve or wrap and refrigerate.

Recipe courtesy Dan Nicklas.

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