Butternut Squash Cornbread with Cinnamon and Curry
October 8, 2020
Pumpkins get all the credit this time of year, but if you ask me, all the fun varieties of winter squashes are the real stars of the season. I’ve never liked the flavor of pumpkins anyway. But give me any kind of squash, from acorn to spaghetti – I love them all! So of course, I had to highlight one of my favorites in a fun fall fashion with this butternut squash cornbread.
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There are a couple features of this cornbread that make it unique, besides the inclusion of squash. First, I used a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and curry powder, for a fragrant flavor. Also, I decided to use olive oil and ricotta for a moist, tight crumb texture. Everything works together to create a perfect holiday side dish or seasonal breakfast.
What You Need to Get Started
- Produce: Butternut squash
- Fridge: Maple syrup, Egg, Ricotta, Butter
- Pantry: Vegetable oil, Cornmeal, Flour, Baking soda, Honey
- Spice Rack: Cream of tartar, Cinnamon, Curry powder, Cloves
- Equipment: Sheet pan, Aluminum foil, Potato masher, 8×8 Baking pan, Mixing bowls, Whisk, Silicone spatula, Cooling rack
How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash
This recipe uses butternut squash puree, which is very simple to make from a fresh butternut squash. However, you can also find it canned or frozen, if you’d like to save some time and skip a few steps.
A butternut squash is fairly large, so you will end up with more puree than you need for this recipe. Luckily, it’s a versatile ingredient that can add a fall flavor to plenty of dishes. Or you can simple add some maple syrup and spices for a sweet snack.
There are many different ways to roast a butternut squash, but I prefer this simple method of leaving the squash whole. It requires less work upfront, and you don’t have to worry about cutting through a large, hard squash.
Preheat the oven, and be sure that you have a rack in the lower half. Then you simply place the whole squash on a foil-lined sheet pan. Use a knife with a sharp tip, like a paring knife, to pierce the squash a few times. This will allow steam to release as it cooks. Then roast, setting the timer for half an hour.
It will likely take longer for the squash to be fully roasted, but after the first half hour, you can begin checking it. Use a butter knife, which should easily pierce through the skin and into the flesh like warm butter. If there is resistance, put it back in for another ten minutes.
Continue to check until you can easily push the butter knife into the flesh all over the squash. If you notice it’s cooking unevenly, turn and rotate the squash or pan as needed. When it’s done, remove the pan from the oven and let it rest until it’s cool enough to handle.
Once cooled, slice the squash in half. Then scoop out the seeds and set these aside. I find the easiest way to do this is by using a grapefruit spoon. The sharp edges easily cut through the strings of the squash, making removing the seeds a breeze.
Place the squash halves in a large bowl, and peel off the skin. In most cases, it will come off very easily, since roasting created a layer of steam separating it from the flesh. If there are areas where it sticks, use a large spoon to guide the flesh away from the skin. Discard the skin.
Mash the squash using a potato masher, pastry blender, or fork until it’s thoroughly pureed. Set aside one cup for this recipe, and store the rest in the fridge or freezer to use later. Separate the seeds from any strings or flesh pieces and rinse them, using your hands or a strainer until clean. Then dry these with paper towels, and set aside again.
Let’s Make Butternut Squash Cornbread
This cornbread comes together very quickly and easily after you have made the squash puree. It’s technically a quick bread, which uses the chemical reaction between baking soda and an acid to create the rise. And the method for making it is fairly standard as well: wet ingredients + dry ingredients.
To get started, preheat or lower your oven temperature, and grease an 8×8-inch pan. Mix the puree with the other wet ingredients in a small mixing bowl: maple syrup for sweetness, ricotta and vegetable oil for texture, and an egg to act as a binder, holding everything together. Stir until this mixture is smooth.
In a larger mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. A combination of cornmeal and flour create that signature cornbread taste with a light texture. Baking soda and cream of tartar will react to rise, which makes for a fluffy bread. Finally, the spices add a variety and depth of flavor.
If you prefer, you can use a combination of baking powder and baking soda, instead of the cream of tartar. You can also change up the spices to suit your own tastes. If you are worried about the curry flavor, cut that amount in half, and replace it with pumpkin pie spice instead.
Whisk the dry ingredients together until they are thoroughly mixed and uniform. Then pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry. At this point, your goal is to combine everything together, but not to over mix.
Use a silicone spatula and a folding motion to incorporate the flour mix into the squash. You want to do the minimum amount here to create a uniform dough. Continue folding the wet and dry together until everything is coated, and you no longer see large streaks or pockets of flour.
When the batter is ready, transfer it to the prepared pan. Use that same spatula to scrape every last bit out of the bowl. If you notice any dry streaks while doing this, it’s a good time to sneakily mix those into the batter.
You can also use the spatula to evenly spread the batter in the pan. This is a fairly thick batter, so it will not pour evenly. Instead, spread it into the corners and smooth out the top.
Before baking, we will add the cinnamon seed topping. Remember those squash seeds you set aside before? Now it’s time to grab those and toss them in some cinnamon.
Use a small bowl and your hands to get these all coated. Then sprinkle them over the top of the cornbread batter. There is no need to worry about these being perfectly arranged, just be sure they are fairly well distributed. If there’s extra cinnamon in the bowl, add that on top too.
Bake the cornbread for about twenty minutes. When it’s done, a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean, but may have a few crumbs. If you are still seeing any wetness, it needs some more time.
Another way to tell that the bread is done is to gently touch the center. Do this quickly, because it’s pretty hot, and don’t use too much pressure; just a light touch. It should bounce back, and feel like a sponge. If it still has give, put it back in the oven for a couple minutes.
Let the cornbread cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes to an hour before cutting.
Butternut squash cornbread is the cozy breakfast, dessert, or side you’ve been looking for! Try it seasoned with cinnamon and curry.
How to Serve Butternut Squash Cornbread
Once the bread has cooled, you can slice it and serve immediately. It tastes best warm, with some melted butter and a drizzle of honey. My husband also enjoyed a slice topped with caramel for a sweeter treat. You can also cover and store this cornbread at room temperature for a few days. Just warm to serve.
You can eat this for pretty much any meal you’d like. The curry gives it a deeper flavor than cinnamon alone, making it an excellent side dish for your holiday dinners (here’s how to build a menu for those!) or for brunch. But with the sweet drizzle of honey and moist texture, it can also be a unique dessert.
Try pairing a slice with a chai white hot chocolate for a cozy breakfast. Serve it alongside cinnamon praline stuffed challah in a festive bread basket. Or finish off the evening with a sweet cocktail, like a chocolate turtle martini.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Mix extra butternut squash puree into your favorite mac and cheese recipe.
- Maple syrup is a great natural sweetener. Use it in vegan triple chocolate muffins.
- Use leftover ricotta to make the filling for cannoli cream crepes.
- Add cornmeal to a state fair favorite with sweet corn fritters.
- Cloves add the perfect flavor to a simple weeknight apple crisp.
Butternut Squash Cornbread with Cinnamon and Curry
- 1 Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash Cornbread
- 1 Cup Squash Puree
- 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
- 1 Egg
- ½ Cup Ricotta
- ¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 Cup Cornmeal
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Cream of Tartar see note for substitution
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Curry Powder
- ½ tsp Cloves
- Squash Seeds
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- Butter for serving
- Honey for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400°F, with a rack in the bottom half, and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place a whole butternut squash on the pan, and use the sharp tip of a knife to pierce 8-10 times.
- Roast for 40-70 min. After the first 30 minutes, check every ten until the squash is soft and easy to pierce with fork. Remove the pan from the oven, and let the squash rest until it's cool enough to handle.
- Halve the cooled squash, scoop out the seeds and set them aside, peel off the skin, and mash the flesh into puree. You can store the squash puree in the fridge for 3-4 days, or the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Remove any flesh or strings from the seeds and rinse them until clean. Then dry between paper towels thoroughly. Store at room temperature overnight, or in the fridge for 2-3 days. For longer storage, roast the seeds at 275°F for about 15 minutes, in a single layer.
Butternut Squash Cornbread
- Preheat (or lower) the oven to 375, and move a rack to the middle. Grease and set aside an 8x8 pan.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the squash puree, maple syrup, egg, ricotta, and vegetable oil. Stir until smooth and thoroughly combined.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and spices. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, and fold using a silicone spatula just until there are no dry pockets of flour.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. In a small dish, making the cinnamon seeds, by tossing the squash seeds with the cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle over the batter, including any extra cinnamon.
- Bake for 22-28 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, and the top of the bread bounces back when you gently touch it. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.
- Serve warm with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey.
- Make ahead tips:
- You can roast the squash well in advance, and store it in the fridge or freezer. If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
- Store the baked cornbread covered tightly at room temperature for 3-4 days. Slice when ready to serve for the freshest taste.
- You can use 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda instead of the baking soda and cream of tartar listed.
- If you are using frozen squash, or need to supplement the seeds, you can use store-bought or fresh pumpkin seeds instead.
- If you are not a fan of curry powder, skip it completely; use any combination of ginger, allspice, cloves, and cardamom; or use a pumpkin pie spice.