Serves a Crowd

Brown Butter and Butternut Loaf

October 27, 2010
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Serves 2 loaves
Author Notes

I adore pumpkin bread (especially in combination with brie cheese, hehe)—its flavor is even better and deeper when you use other winter squash, like butternut or kabocha. I recently have been finding that I get a headache after eating cinnamon (very strange, I know), so I decided to make some butternut squash bread and play with other potential flavors. One of the first that sprang to mind was the wonderful nutty flavor of brown butter. With just a little nutmeg to add a spicy aroma and a brown butter glaze to add another punch of flavor, the friendly folks at my office gobbled this loaf up so fast I barely got a piece myself. (And that's saying something, considering I'm at a nutrition school! :) ) —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

Somewhere pleasantly between pumpkin and butterscotch, fiveandspice's recipe is a very original take on a seasonal loaf cake. Your whole house will smell like rich, nutty brown butter since it's in both the cake and the icing. Added bonus: the recipe yields two loaves! – Natalie —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the butternut loaf:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups puréed roasted butternut squash
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferrably freshly ground)
  • For the brown butter icing.
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. For the butternut loaf:
  2. Preheat your oven to 350° F, and grease two 9-inch loaf pans.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat the butter over medium high heat. It will melt first, and then start to foam. Turn the heat down to medium. Stir the melted butter almost constantly, scraping any browning bits from the bottom of the pan. When the butter has turned a brown color and smells rich and nutty, remove it from the heat. (This should take about 7 minutes). Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the eggs and sugars on high speed for several minutes, until the color has lightened (Random side note: in Norwegian this is called an "eggedosis"). Scrape in the browned butter and beat for another couple of minutes, until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Add the puréed squash to the wet ingredients and beat until smooth and uniformly mixed in.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg. Add this to the wet ingredients, and mix on low until fully incorporated.
  7. Divide the batter evenly into the 2 prepared loaf pans and bake for about 50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Take the bread out of the loaf pans and allow to cool completely before glazing (recipe below).
  1. For the brown butter icing.
  2. Brown the butter in a pan, just as described in step 2 for the bread (it may take a little less time because there's less butter) and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Scrape the butter into a mixing bowl.
  3. Sift the confectioner's sugar to remove lumps. Then whisk the vanilla into the butter. Next, whisk in confectioner's sugar until your reach a spreadable consistency.
  4. Spread the icing onto the loaves, and allow to set for about 30 minutes before slicing.
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37 Reviews

Terri October 29, 2023
Do you just roast the butternut squash in the oven?
dickensthedog November 22, 2022
This is almost identical (except for cinnamon, ginger and cloves) to my absolute favorite pumpkin ginger bread which also includes 1/2 cup of chopped candied ginger. I can't wait to try browning the butter and adding the brown butter icing. I sometimes bake this bread in seven small disposable tins to give as gifts.
Yvette November 22, 2022
Disposable tins to give as gifts - that is a great idea since this recipe makes 2 loaves. Do you have a website link to where I could look at ordering these?
dickensthedog November 22, 2022
I get them at a local Mom and Pop discount store. I bet you could find them on the big river: )
Naomi February 1, 2022
I made this recipe exactly as directed a few years ago (except with Bob's Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour instead of wheat) and it was so delicious and gorgeous!

I now have to remove cane sugar from my diet and reduce sugar intake overall, so when I received a kabocha squash in a CSA share I immediately wanted to use it for an adapted version of this recipe. I used only 1 cup of sugar total, 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1/2 brown coconut sugar, and left off the glaze. Straight out of the oven it didn't taste quite sweet enough and the coconut sugar was a little too obviously tart. However, after sitting over night the flavors really settled in together and it's similar to a light pound cake, perfectly sweet and very satisfying and addictive.
LizzO1975 December 15, 2020
This recipe is unbelievably good. My 10 year old daughter dry heaved when I told her I was making "squash bread" but after eating this it is now her absolute favorite and she asks for it constantly. I actually made them into cupcakes for Halloween and turned the brown butter glaze into brown butter buttercream by doubling the recipe, cooling the brown butter in the refrigerator and then adding enough sugar to the butter when being whipped to make it the right consistency (with a little cream and vanilla). I also added cinnamon to the bread base along with the nutmeg.
Charlotte W. March 19, 2020
Loved this yummy bread. Will make it over and over again. Since I love very spicy food I also added cayenne, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. I did use white whole wheat flour and it is still a great bread.
stormy85 November 7, 2019
I admittedly made a few changes to this recipe but it was delicious! I halved it and added 1 tsp cinnamon, some orange zest, and used half brown/half white sugar in the cake. I also reduced the sugar in the icing by a quarter cup and found it very thick so I added orange juice to reinforce the orange flavor of the cake. I can't comment on the taste of the recipe as written but I will definitely by making it again with these changes.
Steven W. September 26, 2021
So, you didn't really even make it, though! Your changes are reasonable, but why not try it next time as written? I never understand this--I change things to suit myself too, but after I've followed the recipe to the letter.
Anne K. January 14, 2018
I am thinking of freezing and then frosting after the defrost.
Jenny January 13, 2018
I made this yeasterday, and it came out great!! I used one C. whole wheat flour and two C. white, 1 1/2 C. turbinado sugar in place of plain, and added Vietnamese cinnamon. Does this bread freeze well? If so, how should I package it to freeze?
Maureen P. September 25, 2017
Do you have any adjustments for high altitude baking? I am at 6000 ft! Thanks
Ted September 18, 2017
This is good. I made half recipe -- now wish I'd made full recipe!! I omitted to icing. Also wish the nutmeg flavour was a bit more pronounced, so the next time I make it -- and there will be a next time -- I'll up the quantity of nutmeg. The batter came together so easily. Very good: recommended.
Ted September 17, 2017
I wanted to make a half recipe -- so 1 cake only -- since I'm more likely to have 1 cup of squash than 2, how would I adjust the eggs?

I'm guessing i could beat 3 eggs and eyeball-measure 1/2 of that volume, but what if I only wanted to use 1 egg?

Thank you!
fiveandspice September 17, 2017
As long as it's a pretty large egg, I'm guessing that using just one egg would probably wind up working out. Or you could use one egg and then whisk up a second egg and use half of it by weight.
melissa December 2, 2016
dumb question, but my partner dislikes nutmeg (after a bad pumpkin pie experience during the swine flu epidemic) -- what would be the best substitution here?
fiveandspice December 2, 2016
Cinnamon should work well. I normally would have used cinnamon but I was on an anti cinnamon kick when I developed this recipe (I was convinced it was giving me head aches, though really I was probably just stressed), and that's why I chose nutmeg instead! Cardamom might be another interesting option.
GingerHippie December 29, 2021
Dump him
keg72 October 17, 2016
This is really delicious -- and the icing definitely raises it to another level!
mymymyra October 13, 2016
Do you think this would still work with pumpkin puree? I am feeling lazy and don't want the hassle of the butternut squash but I like the idea of doing non traditional flavor for pumpkin bread.
fiveandspice October 14, 2016
Yes, I do think it would work.
Deborah November 19, 2016
I regularly make this with pumpkin purée and it's delicious, although I suspect butternut squash gives the brown butter flavor a bit more prominence.
ghainskom September 18, 2016
Had to recycle some butternut leftover from jamoe oliver's chicken laksa and opted for this recie. Used ghee instead of the clarified butter, only 1 cup of regular sugar, and 2 cups of ap flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour, skipped the icing. Bang on.
Yvette April 23, 2016
Didn't even get a chance to make the icing - my husband and I ate the first loaf while it was still warm with butter - great recipe! Next time I might add a bit more nutmeg and maybe some cinnamon as well.
LASGarcia March 16, 2016
I guess you could replace the squash with unsweetened apple sauce too, or what about bananas and curb the sugar some?
Michelle October 8, 2014
Would this work with acorn or delicata squash? I am awash with it from our CSA...
fiveandspice October 8, 2014
You know, I don't know. I imagine that acorn squash wouldn't have quite enough flavor. Or at least, it would be very different, but it might still taste good in a different way. Delicata squash might be good, but it would be a pain to peel it all. But doable!
Rivka January 6, 2011
a warning about this loaf: the batter is dangerously delicious. Can't wait to taste the fully-baked version!
fiveandspice January 6, 2011
I hope you enjoy the baked version too :)!
Rivka January 7, 2011
It's absolutely delicious. No surprise. We both took slices for lunch today. Yum!
fiveandspice January 7, 2011
Yay!!! Glad you like it. Thanks for the feedback!
JoanG October 28, 2010
I'm going to try this with some whiole wheat flour in it!
fiveandspice October 28, 2010
Let me know how it goes! I can't actually eat whole wheat, but I was definitely musing about whether this would be good with some and whether I could recommend trying some combo of all purpose and whole wheat flour to others. Hope you like it!