November 16, 2012

Brown Butter Spice Loaf

Do you ever feel like you are your own worst enemy? No worries, I'm not going to be all depressing today. Just thoughtful. Do you ever have times where there are things you want to accomplish, but your former habits and tendencies keep tripping you up? Boy, I do! And then, when I don't accomplish those goals, big or small, I'm awfully hard on myself. I need to learn to ask for help more. To pray more. To give myself just a teeny bit of slack. Not too much, of course! If I did that, I would never accomplish anything! :) I've been fighting the lazy, comfort-eating Me lately. I've made some progress, had a bit of back-sliding, but I'm still trying. And I am hopeful. Because really, I am a happy optimistic person at heart!

Those of you who have been reading for a while know I kinda live my life to a soundtrack. Music is never far from my mind, or heart. I've done whole posts about music, then tacked a recipe on the end. :) Have I mentioned The Piano Guys yet? They are my current "play-over-and-over-and-over" group. Steven Sharp Nelson is an awesome cellist and Jon Schmidt is a fantastic piano player, and they cover all kinds of songs, from boy bands to classical to Michael Jackson. Their joy is infectious! I love ALL of their stuff, but this newest song is currently on repeat in my head. It is my anthem... against myself!! (Listen Here) I've got it on repeat as I'm writing :) One more: Five Guys, One Piano. I promise, this will be one of the greatest things you have ever EVER seen. Makes me smile every time!!! (And kick's One Direction's behind!)

And now, enough introspection, time for the Food, of course! :)

Brown Butter Spice Loaf (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
Printable Recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 Tb almond oil (or hazelnut oil, or another Tb of melted butter)
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup candied ginger, minced (or just a few pieces, the amount doesn't have to be perfect)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup pureed roasted winter squash (you can substitute pumpkin, or even bananas!)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lightly toasted sliced almonds
1 Tb Turbinado/muscovado sugar for sprinkling (coarse golden sugar)

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat until it turns brown and yummy and toasty. This can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. You want the butter solids toasted, but not scorched. Stir in the almond oil, or extra Tb butter. Set aside and allow to cool while you mix up the batter.
Preheat oven to 350. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and let them toast while the oven warms up. Butter/line a loaf pan, set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. (Remove almonds from the oven when they're lightly toasted) In a smaller bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, squash, and milk together. Whisk in the butter (make sure it isn't hot) Add the wet ingredients to the flour, and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar and almonds, and bake for about 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, or with a few crumbs. Do not overbake!!
*Variations: The original recipe used a garam masala mix instead of the spices I chose. I wasn't brave enough to try it, but you could! The cardamom adds an interesting, almost savory-peppery note. You could skip that if you want. Also, you can substitute butter for the oil, skip the browning, replace squash with pumpkin or banana... All kinds of ideas!
*To make roasted squash: Roast large wedges or small cubes of skinned and seeded pumpkin, butternut squash, red kuri squash, etc. on a baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil in a 375 degree oven until tender. (30-45 minutes) Let cool a bit, then puree.
This has got to be the brownest thing I have ever made! In a good way, of course. All toasty and warm and spiced, and scrumptious. Browning butter is amazing!! The extra nutty flavor is positively cozy. I am already thinking of all kinds of classics to try it with...
I love toasted almonds. They're one of my new favorite things, and a delicious snack!! Topping this toasty butter bread, they're the perfect topping, with crusty golden sugar. They make quite the crunch on top!
Tons of spices crammed into this bread-cake! I think "loaf" is officially my word for this kind of thing, as it isn't really either cake or bread! You would never know there's squash! I can tell, but that's because I know what to look for. I recommend roasting your own squash/pumpkin, that roasting adds a wonderful depth to the flavors. Yum!!
It turns out soft and moist and yummy. Chewy little bits of ginger are a wonderful highlight, and altogether it's just a delicious snack. Or breakfast!


  1. That looks like just the thing I'm in the mood for. Candied Ginger in November. Match made in heaven. Do you have TPG's CD yet? Have you heard Arwen's Vigil? Did I give you Zoe Keating?
    scones or this recipe... hmmmm.

  2. Wow, I loved the 5 Guys and a Piano. My daughter, Mary loved it. I will have to share this too :)

  3. First of all, that bread looks amazing and I'm going to have to make it. Second, I swear you are the daughter I never had. I completely relate to your opening statement(s). You are beautiful and that's that.

  4. April, this looks fabulous!! I printed it right away. Hoping to make it this week. Can't wait! I hope mine turns out as good as yours looks! I have never heard of the piano guys! Will be checking them out!xxoo


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