Last October, I had a ton of leftover pumpkin that I wanted to put to good use - I love the colour and shape of it, the way you can employ it to make both savoury and sweet dishes. So I found this recipe on the brilliant Italian website Giallozafferano, and, after Halloween, started using butternut squash instead of pumpkin to make the lovely bright muffins you can see below. It's great to eat something so scented and tasty and find out that it contains a lot of fruit!
I let some friends taste these muffins without telling them what the main ingredient was, and they all loved them - it was a shock for them to learn they were eating butternut squash, which they thought of as a bland, tasteless vegetable.
It is easy to make butternut squash puree using the directions below, but remember that you need to plan ahead as it takes about 50 minutes.
This recipe definitely gives you an excuse to bake and enjoy your own creations - so get ready to don your apron and fill your kitchen with the delicious perfume of these healthy(ish) treats!
- a 12-hole muffin tin
- 12 muffin cases
- a food processor
- 225g butternut squash (pulp)
- a drizzle of olive oil
- 150g unsalted butter (softened)
- 100g cane sugar
- 90g honey or golden syrup
- 1 egg (medium)
- 200g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 pinch of salt
- half a tsp cinnamon
- 1 small pinch of nutmeg
Firstly, make the puree. Wash and dry the butternut squash. Using a large knife and a cutting board, and being very careful not to hurt yourself (butternut squash is really hard), cut it into four or five parts. Place them on a baking tray with the skin on top, and rub them with some olive oil. Cook them in the oven at 200 °C for 45 minutes, then check whether they have softened. If not, leave them in for another ten minutes. Then take them out of the oven and let them cool a little. When there is no danger that you might burn your fingers, peel them - it will be almost as easy as peeling a banana. Put the flesh into a food processor and whiz into a puree. You will need 225g of this to make the muffins.
Using the paddle attachment of your food processor, beat the softened butter until it gets creamy, then, still mixing, add the sugar and honey (or golden syrup). Add the egg and the puree and mix.
Preheat the oven to 200 °C. In a medium bowl sift the flour and baking soda, then add the salt and cinnamon, and mix with a spoon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, and mix well.
Line the holes of the muffin tray with paper muffin cases, then pour the dough into them and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick or skewer into a couple of muffins: if it comes out clean, they are ready; if it is still wet, cook them for 4-5 more minutes.