Hey Chocolate Bread, Meet Kabocha

Another year gone by, another birthday celebrated…sigh.  But, one thing I still love is receiving lovely thoughtful gifts from my peeps!  This Sweet Nerd is crushing big-time on the Gjelina cookbook from the talented chef Travis Lett.  This kabocha bread is seductively simple, rustic, and modern all at once. It just bursts with the rich combination of kabocha and chocolate chunks.  The olive oil glaze is subtle and the crunch of the pepitas adds just the right amount of glazin’ crunch.

Kabocha Bread

Although Gjelina is located in the vicinity of Los Angeles, it might as well be on the other side of the planet within the gridlines of all that traffic!  Traveling in bumper-to-bumper traffic from Los Feliz to Venice is a near perfect recipe for road rage!  So, for many years, I bypassed this restaurant for fear I would turn into a ‘traffic tyrant’ of a mother for  the amount of time and distance WAZE assigned me. Double sigh.

Kabocha Bread

But relax, there is a silver lining to this story.  Recently, Steves and I celebrated a stay-cation in Santa Monica and we planned a crucial dinner date at Gjelina.  This restaurant has been written about in all of the popular foodie magazines such as Lucky Peach, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine.  The California/Mediterranean fusion food does not disappoint and the service was fantastic. We ‘ed it so much that we swiftly returned the next morning for breakfast.  Menu Tip: the Shashuka is killer!

Kabocha Bread

After my delectable experience at Gjelina, I vowed to put on my fighting face against LA’s tough traffic and commute. That’s right, I’ll take any SoCal highway, freeway, side street – I don’t care, just get out of my way as I’m heading to Gjelina for some good eating. It’s no wonder that I was over the moon when I tested out this recipe because it came out so delicious. And the kicker – Kabocha?  Huh, really and why?

Kabocha Bread

The secret to this kabocha bread is the rich combination of dripping melted chocolate flush with this amaze*balls pumpkin! It is a Japanese pumpkin that is sweet and fluffy.  But, cutting the Kabocha in my kitchen was another feat all it’s own.  First off, I should have researched how to cut this lovely pumpkin, but the Sweet Nerd that I am, sometimes I just dive right in without a warning. Needless to say, I learned the hard way and found that softening the Kabocha skin will make your life immensely easier.

Kabocha Bread

You can do this a couple of different ways:

  1. Microwave it for a few minutes, this should help soften the skin without compromising the squash itself.
  2. Bake it at 400 degrees whole for about 20 minutes, then cut it. (Add more time, if need be).

Kabocha Bread

Let’s just say that my first attempt at conquering the Kabocha went like this: I stuck a cleaver in it, and then pounded it down onto the counter like a whack-a-mole game. BTW, I was not winning. Going through this pumpkin-opening experience was humbling to say the least but, eventually it worked.  So, use whatever technique you desire, no judgment from me!

When this lovely squash roasts, it gets even sweeter and makes the whole house smell like fall.  Oh, poor butternut squash.  Don’t worry, I still love you.  But, man this Kabocha is killing it!

Kabocha Bread

This recipe is a classic quickbread method, and the few extra steps of roasting the Kabocha and pepita seeds will make all the difference for flavor.

Because of the density of the Kabocha, you’ll want to do the poking trick!  You know, when you insert a toothpick to see if it’s ready.  We all skip this step as we have learned to recognize baked bread, but promise me you will go through the hassle and test this one!

Kabocha Bread

Pepitas and a sweet olive-ish glaze topping…need I say more?  The olive oil cuts the sweetness in a perfect manner.  It is super simple, and the satisfaction of pouring a thick rich glaze, uhhh-huh, yeah…it feels good!

So onward and upward, to a high-quality Kabocha bread with crunch and style.

Kabocha Bread

Recipe Credits: Gjelina

Photos by: Maria Hedrick Photography

Kabocha, Olive Oil & Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

By TheSweetNerd  ,

November 15, 2016

Recipe Credits: Gjelina

  • Prep: 1 hrs
  • Cook: 50 mins


1 lb piece kabocha squash, seeded

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, plus 1 cup & 1 Tbsp

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground nutmeg

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3 Tbsp pepitas

Olive Oil Glaze

1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted plus more as needed

2 Tbsp hot water

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp crushed cacao nibs


1Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, drizzle the squash with olive oil, turn the piece cut-side down. Cook until very soft and beginning to caramelize around the edges, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scrape out the squash flesh and transfer to a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

2In a large piece of cheesecloth, wrap the pureed squash in a tight bundle. Put in a colander set over a bowl and let drain at least 4 hours, or up to overnight. Squeeze by twisting the cheesecloth to remove any extra water. Unwrap the drained squash and measure out 1 cup.

3Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-in loaf pan.

4Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, olive oil, squash puree, and eggs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the squash mixture. Whisk until just combined. Stir the chocolate into the batter.

5Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until browned on the top and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 75 to 90 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert the cake from the pan. Let cool on the rack for another 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate.

6In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, gently toast the pepitas just until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool.

Olive Oil Glaze

1In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar with 2 Tbsp hot water until you have a thick glaze. Add more confectioners' sugar or water as needed to create a smooth glaze with the viscosity of honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly.

2Pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Sprinkle with the cacao nibs and pepitas and let the glaze set completely before serving, about 1 hour.


Kabocha Bread


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