Friday, November 02, 2007

The sweeter side

Butternut squash isn't something I ate as a kid but after trying it a few years ago I came to love it, love it, love it. I'll throw this versatile veg into soups, salads, stews, risotto, eat it roasted as a side dish... However, I've never used it to make anything sweet rather than savoury. High time, then, to remedy the situation.

Which brings us back round to Jamie Oliver's latest book,* in which he has a recipe for butternut squash muffins. Bingo. He mentions that the result is a bit like carrot cake, which had me hooked straightaway, seeing as that's one of my favourites (along with all the other favourites...). And, as if I needed an extra reason, there is cinnamon involved - oh yes, count me in. What I wasn't so sure about was the fact that you use the entire butternut squash, skin and all.

What? Grate the whole lot? All I could imagine was encountering bits of hard squash rind in the middle of an otherwise perfectly delicious muffin. Why? Why would you do that to yourself?

But Jamie's rarely set me on the wrong path before so I gritted my teeth, trusted the recipe and got on with the grating.

After some skinned knuckles and a bit of swearing, I realised that everything would turn out ok. I hadn't really thought about the fact that the skin on a butternut squash is pretty thin. So it would just melt into the batter as the muffins cooked - exactly the same as carrot cake. Hurray!

Of course, this means you're sneaking in an extra bit of fibre too. But sssssssssssh - don't tell anyone ;-)

Butternut squash muffins from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver

Makes 12 muffins

You'll need:

300g, plain flour, unsifted
350g light brown soft sugar
sea salt
2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
175ml extra virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
400g butternut squash, skin on, deseeded and grated
a handful of walnuts, chopped

For the frosted cream topping, which I clearly didn't use:

zest of 1 clementine
zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon
140ml soured cream
2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
optional: lavender flowers or rose petals
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line your muffin tin with paper cases.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil and eggs.

3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mix and stir until just combined. Then add the grated squash and chopped walnuts. Stir to combine but being careful not to overmix.

4. Fill the paper cases with the muffin mixture and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to rest for five minutes and then take the muffins out of the tin and leave to coo on a wire rack.

5. Icing: Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds, and mix well. Taste and adjust the balance of sweet/sour by adding a little more icing sugar or lemon juice as necessary. Spoon the icing over the muffins once they're completely cold.

Cook's notes

As you can see from the photo above, I didn't bother icing the muffins. I think I've mentioned before that I'm a bit lazy.

Next time I'll add some raisins or sultanas too, making it even more like carrot cake.

If I'd read the blurb at the beginning of the recipe properly then I would have seen the sentence, 'The skin of the butternut squash goes deliciously soft and chewy when cooked, so there's no need to peel it off.' And then I wouldn't have worried in the first place. Guess I was in too much of a hurry to make those muffins!

*I renewed the book from the library - there are a few more things I'd like to try :-)


hellojed said...

I wouldn't have thought that combination would have worked at all, but I love carrot cake - I love the way you are so adventurous!

Trekkie said...

Hmm, I wonder if this would work with the mountain of pumpkin that I've got left over from Halloween?

Holler said...

Blooming heck! The whole squash! that must have been hard work! The muffin looks good though!

Jen said...

Hi Hellojed. It was lovely and a good twist on an old favourite. I'll definitely be making them again.

Hello Trekkie. I reckon it might be a good way to make start making inroads into the pumpkin pile :-) Let me know how it goes.

Hey Holler. Jamie's instructions were to just 'whizz it up' in the food processor but mine is a bit crap for grating, so yep, I had to go the old-fashioned route...