After many weeks of intense heat, the temperature finally drops and nowadays it feels a bit like fall. And speaking of fall, pumpkin is pretty much a common fixture. For Asians though, kabocha is more familiar in our dishes instead of the kind you use for Halloween decoration 🙂 You can totally use regular pumpkin if you wish, but if you can buy some kabocha, you need to give this kabocha squash bread a try.
How to prep your kabocha
Kabocha is a pretty large squash, and most of the time supermarkets cut them into sections and you can buy just a quarter section or a half section. You only need 150 gram of kabocha meat, so most likely you will need at most a quarter of kabocha. To prep your kabocha, cut away the skin, and remove the seeds and fibers, then cut into large chunks and washed. Place kabocha chunks in a microwavable bowl and microwave until tender enough to be mashed with a fork. The cooking time in my microwave is 3 minutes, but yours may differ, so adjust as needed.
The rest of the kabocha squash bread ingredients
The ingredients for this bread is pretty standard for a yeast bread. So you will need bread flour (or all purpose flour), sugar, salt, egg, unsalted butter, milk, and active dry yeast. I always start by preparing my yeast solution. Simple heat milk to 38 Celsius (100 Fahrenheit), then add in active dry yeast and a bit of sugar, mix and let it sit until foamy, usually about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, measure flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Finally, measure the butter.
Knead until window pane stage
Once the yeast is ready, make a well in the flour mixture, add in yeast solution, mashed kabocha, and egg, knead until non-sticky (about 10-15 minutes by hand). Then, add butter, and knead again until non-oily (another 10-15 minutes by hand). You know your dough is fully kneaded when it is smooth, elastic, non-sticky, and non-oily. Also, try to stretch your dough. If you can stretch it thin enough without tearing and light can pass through the stretched part, the dough has successfully reached the so called window pane stage.
Double rise if your friend
Once the dough reaches window pane stage, you can place it in a mixing bowl, cover with a wrap, and let it rise until double (about 45 minutes in a warm kitchen). Punch the risen dough to remove air bubbles, knead again for 5 minutes, and divide into 3 equal portions. In a floured working surface, roll each portion into an oblong (rectangular) shape, fold the two long sides to the center, it is okay if the two folds overlap each other slightly. Then roll the dough like a towel. Place the rolled dough into a greased and floured loaf pan. Repeat for the other 2 portions. Cover the loaf pan, and let the dough rise for a second time.
Baking and Tenting
Preheat your oven to 200 Celsius (400 Fahrenheit). Sprinkle the top with some bread flour (or all purpose flour), and lightly score the top of the dough (about 5mm or 1/16 inch deep) through the center of the dough. The scoring is optional, but it helps a bit to get an even baking result. Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Then tent the pan with aluminum foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Once out from the oven, you can throw away the aluminum foil, and gently remove the bread from the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool completely. When it is warm enough to handle, you can enjoy your home baked kabocha squash bread.
The Recipe for 1 Loaf of Kabocha Squash Bread
- 120 gram warm milk (38 Celsius or 100 Fahrenheit)
- 4 gram active dry yeast
- 5 gram brown sugar
- 150 gram kabocha squash meat, cut into wedges
- 300 gram bread flour (or all purpose flour)
- 30 gram brown sugar
- 4 gram salt
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 35 gram unsalted butter, room temperature
- enough butter and flour to grease and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan
- Mix together warm milk, active dry yeast, and 5 gram of brown sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Place kabocha wedges in a microwave safe bowl, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until fork tender. Mash the cooked kabocha and set aside. (*)
- Whisk together bread flour, brown sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Once the yeast solution is foamy, make a well in the flour mixture, add mashed kabocha, yeast solution, and egg. Knead until smooth and non-sticky, about 10-15 minutes by hand.
- Add butter to the dough, and knead again until smooth and non-oily, another 10-15 minutes.
- The dough is ready once it reaches window pane stage. This means, you can stretch the dough until thin enough to let light pass through the stretched portion without the dough tearing.
- Gather the dough into a ball, place in a mixing bowl, cover with a wet kitchen towel/saran wrap, and let it rise until volume is double. About 45 minutes in a warm kitchen.
- Meanwhile, grease and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan.
- Punch the risen dough to release air bubbles and knead for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 portions.
- In a floured work surface, roll a portion of the dough into an oblong (rectangular) shape. Fold the two long sides to meet at the center, slightly overlapping is okay. Then roll the dough into a log and place in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat for the other 2 portions.
- Cover the loaf pan with a wet kitchen towel/saran wrap, and let the dough rise for a second time until volume is doubled, about 45 minutes in a warm kitchen.
- Preheat oven to 200 Celsius (400 Fahrenheit). Sprinkle the dough with some bread flour (or all purpose flour), and lightly score the top part through the center of the dough.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Then make a tent from a piece of aluminum foil and place it on top of the loaf pan. Bake again for another 15 minutes with tent, or until cooked through and golden brown.
- Remove bread from oven, discard the aluminum foil, and gently remove the bread from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.