As promised, the squash journey continues. This week I have taken on the ominous Blue Hubbard Squash. This beastly, bumpy, blue –tinted behemoth can be a bit intimidating because of its size. However, once you get past the monstrosity factor and figure out how to crack this baby open, the reward is a sweet, smooth dark yellow flesh that is oh so yummy.
I have been making this recipe, formerly called “Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls” for years. While they were good, some would even say delicious, I decided to mix it up a bit this year and substitute squash for the pumpkin. I’ve heard that the Hubbard squash is a great alternative to pumpkin because while it has a similar flavor the consistency is far smoother. Anyone who has even cooked a pumpkin and tried to mash it knows just how stringy it can be. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that pumpkin is great for cooking, and I will definitely be posting a pumpkin recipe or two sometime soon, but in this recipe the Hubbard squash simply blew the pumpkin away.
Before we start in on the recipe I feel obligated to give a bit of a disclaimer here. This is a long post…and this is a time consuming recipe. Stick with me though, because in the end when you are rewarded with the soft, pillowy squash-filled dough oozing with an ohhhy, gooey, cinnamony filling you simply won’t care that you spent an entire afternoon making them. Besides, if you go all out like I did and roast up an entire 11-pound squash, as a bonus you will have delicious leftover roasted squash that you can turn into a whole bunch of other recipes!
I am getting a bit ahead of myself though. The first step to cooking with a Blue Hubbard is to get that thing open. Despite their beastly reputation, a Hubbard does not have to be..well, a beast. This recipe only calls for one cup of squash so if you want to make your life easier go ahead and get the smallest one you can find. I even saw a variety called Baby Hubbard while I was at the farm stand. Most of those probably only weighed a very manageable 3-4 pounds. However, if you are a squash lover like me, or just feeling adventurous, go for it and get the big one! The leftover squash can be used in so many ways. And besides, wrestling with this beast was kind of fun. I decided to use the time honored tradition of dropping the squash on the ground to crack it open. I put it in a plastic bag, lifted it above my head, and let it fall (I did this outside on the deck because we have ceramic tile in our kitchen and I was afraid I might crack it ). Sure enough, after one fall the squash split in two. They were still two pretty big pieces though so I threw it down again and this time it broke into a bunch of manageable size parts. The next steps were simple- scrape out the seeds, peel off the skin, cut into roughly 1-inch size chunks and roast in a 375° for about 40 minutes or until tender. Once your squash is roasted to perfection, you can use a potato masher or food processor to turn it into a smooth purée. Set aside one cup of the mashed squash for the cinnamon roll recipe. If you went whole hog, or rather whole squash, and got yourself a big boy here are a few ideas for how to use your leftover squash:
- Mash it up, add a bit of cream or milk, throw in some spices (rosemary, cayenne pepper, or sage would all be good ) and you have a soup.
- Use the roasted cubes in a chicken pot pie!
- Add the puréed squash to mashed potatoes for an autumn twist on a classic favorite.
- Substitute the roasted Hubbard for Butternut in this recipe for squash Mac n’ Cheese http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/creamy-light-macaroni-cheese-50400000115195/ (Omit step number two).
- Mix the roasted cubes with wild rice, caramelized onions and a bit of sausage for a super quick meal.
- Make a squash pizza! Roasted squash makes an amazing pizza topping. Use a base of ricotta cheese, garlic and a bit of mozzarella. Top with squash, sautéed shallots and a bit of crispy bacon or pancetta.
- Package the leftover squash in freezer bags and save for later.
Makes 12-15 rolls
For the rolls:
1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup roasted Hubbard squash purée (fresh or canned pumpkin purée can be substituted, but I am telling you, the squash is the way to go)
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon ginger
4 tablespoons softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons white flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes until foamy. If it does not foam, start over with new yeast. Trust me, this step is important – there is nothing worse than dough that doesn’t rise properly.
- Add the whole wheat flour, squash, milk, butter, sugar and spices. Beat with a mixer until well combined for about 2 minutes.
- Now, it’s time to knead the dough. I use the bread hook on my stand mixer and it takes about 6 minutes to incorporate in 2 cups of the white flour, adding it one half cup at a time. The final half cup I prefer to knead in by hand on a well floured surface. By the end the dough will be smooth and elastic.
- If you don’t have a stand mixer, or you just love kneading by hand, it will probably take you about 10 minutes. Turn the dough out on a well floured surface and add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour a half cup at a time, kneading well between additions.
- Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour. If you have a cold house like I do it can be tricky to get dough to rise properly. One way to remedy this (besides moving to a warmer climate!) is to pre-heat your oven to 200°, turn it off and then put the bowl of dough in there. It works every time.
- You will know the dough is ready when you press down on it with your fingers and the indentation stays. Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the filling. Combine the 2 sugars, flour and spices in a medium size bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until it resembles a coarse meal.
- Flour a smooth surface and roll the dough out into a 12 x 18- inch rectangle. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the filling. Starting from the long edge, roll the dough tightly, pressing firmly to eliminate any air pockets. Pinch the seams and ends to seal.
- Cut the roll in 1-inch slices. You should end up with between 12 and 15 rolls. Place the rolls in a greased 9 x 11-inch baking pan, leaving room for them to rise. If they won’t all fit in the 9 x 11 pan use a 9-inch round cake pan or something similar for the extra rolls.
- Cover the dish(es) and let rise for about 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size once again. While they are rising pre-heat your oven to 375º.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool the rolls in the baking dish(es) on a metal rack. While they’re cooling, make the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon buns. Eat and enjoy!