This is a great way of making use of butternut squash. A yeasted bread dough is enriched with mashed butternut squash, plaited and then baked to perfection. A nice treat for packed lunches, or fab served with soup.
In a large saucepan, cover peeled and chopped squash with water. Bring water to the boil and cook until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool and mash. Reserve 250g for use in this recipe and freeze remainder for later use.
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with milk, butter, 250g mashed squash, 1 egg, dark brown soft sugar, salt and 250g flour; stir well to combine. Stir in the remaining flour, 60g at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 6 equal pieces and roll each into a rope about 45cm long. Take 3 ropes, pinch ends together and then braid ropes together. Pinch ends to seal. Do the same with the other 3 ropes of dough. Place braids on lightly greased baking trays. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
In a small bowl, beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoons water; brush loaves with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from baking trays and let cool on a wire rack.