Tomorrow morning I’m heading off to Pennsylvania for a business trip, and since I’ll be on the train for a few hours I decided to bake a traveler’s treat for myself: butternut squash muffins with golden raisins and currants. Spiced with cinnamon, ground cloves and freshly grated nutmeg, one of these aromatic goodies will be just the thing to nibble on as the cities whiz by my window. The autumnal flavors are soul satisfying, while the addition of golden raisins, currants and chopped walnuts gives them a hearty, tummy-filling quality. I wish I could eat them all, but most of them are going to my husband’s office. I hope his co-workers won’t mind since I sent cinnamon bun shaped vetekrans to them last week (see photo below).
(Note: To make this decadent cinnamon-bun-vetekrans hybrid, follow the vetekrans recipe up until you roll the dough, jelly like fashion, then slice the dough into 1 1/2-inch wide rounds. Place them in a cake pan, allow to rise for 1 hour, then bake as for the vetekrans. You may need to adjust the baking time +/- 5 minutes, depending on your oven. They’re done when golden brown; the icing is the same as with the vetekrans.)
I developed the butternut squash muffins recipe this weekend, and I have a reader like you to thank for the inspiration. When I posted my yeasted chocolate-chip pumpkin bread in early October a reader named Grace asked if she could substitute butternut squash for the pumpkin. “Well there’s an idea!” I thought to myself, though I had no idea what the correct answer would be. As it turns out, Grace is a genius, and if she hadn’t asked that question I never would have dreamed about these muffins – which, I must say, totally ROCK. You have to try them.
I’m off to finish packing but I’ll be reading comments/email and have a question I’d love your feedback on: would you be interested in a post about losing weight without sacrificing the kinds of food I post on this site? I ask because – at least twice a week – someone says something to me like: “I don’t know how you stay so skinny while baking so much!” The truth is that I’ve lost more than 20lbs in the past couple years, so I’ve a lot to say on the art of balancing food and fitness. But the question is: would you be interested in hearing it? Let me know in the comments.
Butternut Squash Muffins with Golden Raisins & Currants (My Recipe)
Ingredients: Makes 9 jumbo muffins (or, as I did above, six jumbo muffins and six regular sized muffins)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree (instructions below)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1/3-1/2 cup chopped walnuts, according to taste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl beat together the sugars, extra virgin olive oil, eggs, butternut squash and water. In another bowl, gently combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt with a whisk. Add to the squash mixture and blend well. Fold in the golden raisins, currants and walnuts. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling almost to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes for regular sized muffins and 30-35 minutes for jumbo muffins, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
How to Roast a Butternut Squash
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Wash a medium (1 1/2 pound) butternut squash, then cut it in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into a deep, rectangular baking dish (the kind you would use to make lasagna), then place the squash, cut sides down, into the water. Bake for 1 hour or until the skin is browned and the flesh is soft. Remove from the oven and turn the squash over so the heat can escape. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor (not a blender) until smooth. Let the puree cool completely before storing it in the fridge, up to 3 days. The puree can also be frozen for up to 1 month. (Source)