kuri squash sweet bread with cardamom & orange

with the winter solstice just a few days away and a forecast of dark rainy sky, seattle is seeing very little daylight. the gloomy days make me want to stay in bed well past our dreaded 6am alarm. and later in the days around 4pm, the sun starts to set and i fight the urge to crawl back into bed to hibernate until winter ends. this is when i need a little pick me up. teatime. and today, an extra special treat! red kuri squash sweet bread with cardamom & orange zest. 

my oven sees a lot of use for savory dishes. we eat loads of roasted root vegetables this time of year, and use the broiler to make toast for breakfast. rarely do i turn my oven on with the intention of baking something sweet. but earlier this week a client requested a gluten free sweet bread so i sifted through some recipes for inspiration and baked off a loaf that smelled so delicious that i had to remake a loaf for myself at home! 

this loaf is beautifully fluffy, moist and has a perfect crumb. i had leftover steamed red kuri squash in the fridge that made for a perfect addition - but you could easily use canned pumpkin or another homemade squash puree. i adore the flavor combo of cardamom and orange, but if you prefer a more traditional "pumpkin bread" flavor, just substitute for pumpkin spice blend. 

kuri squash sweet bread with cardamom & orange 
adapted from kitchentreaty
1 cup almond flour
1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 navel orange
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup steamed or roasted red kuri squash (or canned pumpkin)
3 large eggs
1 + 1/2 cups raw walnuts
2 tablespoons raw pepita/pumpkin seeds

preheat oven to 350 and rub a metal bread loaf pan with a bit of coconut oil. if using steamed or roasted squash, roughly measure a cup of cooked squash and add to a blender with the melted coconut oil and eggs. blend until smooth. if using, canned pumpkin puree you can simply stir together in a bowl with oil and eggs.

in a larger bowl, mix together dry ingredients along with the orange zest. add wet ingredients and walnuts and stir to combine. transfer mixture to oiled loaf pan and sprinkle the top with pepita seeds. bake for 40-55 minutes, checking with a toothpick after about 35 minutes to see if center is still wet. continue baking until the toothpick test comes out clean. let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes then use a knife to loosen loaf from pan and gently transfer loaf to wire rack to continue cooling. you can slice into it at this point, or let cool completely then wrap in foil or store in airtight container.

serve with strong coffee and continue to hang in there... next week, the days will start to get longer!