Calabaza, West Indian pumpkin, is used to make both sweet and savory dishes in Cuba. It is a large squash with a hard, tannish-gold or green skin and vivid orange-colored flesh. It may weigh as much as twenty pounds, so you often see shoppers at Cuban farmer’s markets buying calabaza by the pound from a vendor who cuts off chunks with machete.
Though it is possible to find fresh calabazas at some Latin American grocery stores in the United States, and they also may be ordered (see Sources), good substitutes are fresh pie pumpkin or butternut squash or canned pumpkin. To prepare calabaza puree: Carefully cut the calabaza in half with a large, heavy chef’s knife. Remove the seeds and cut the flesh into chunks. Boil or steam the chunks until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. When cool enough to handle, remove the peel with sharp paring knife, then puree the flesh.
Sweet quick bread recipes like this one reflect the strong influence of cooking trends that originated in the United States on the Cuban cooking of the 1940s and ’50s. This is a great breakfast, tea, or dessert bread.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and allspice.
Place the calabaza puree, sugar, butter, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and thoroughly combine with an electric mixer. With the mixer at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Fold in the raisins. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
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