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Portuguese Spiced Squash Rolls

Rolls and buns brightened with squash or sweet potatoes and enriched with nuts and dried fruits, as well as anise and cinnamon, are holiday specialties in many parts of Portugal.

2 pounds butternut or buttercup squash
2 teaspoons salt
5 to 6 cups flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3/4 cup golden raisins

Cut the squash in large chunks and put them in a saucepan with the salt and enough water to cover them plentifully. Bring to a boil and cook until the chunks are tender. Mash or puree them.

In a large mixing bowl, preferably the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 5 cups of flour and the cornmeal. Add the squash while it is still hot and mix to a stiff dough. If necessary, add a little of the hot liquid in which you cooked the squash. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of water and mix it into the squash mixture. Then mix in the sugar, cinnamon, and anise seeds. Work with a dough hook or knead, adding extra flour if the dough is very soft.

When the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands, form it into a ball and put it in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, which takes about an hour. Punch the dough down and flatten it. Scatter the pine nuts or walnuts and the raisins on it, then knead until they are well distributed.

Grease 2 cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper. Form the dough into 15 to 18 rolls and place on the cookie sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for an hour or until doubled again.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes or until they sound hollow when you tap the bottom.

Makes 15 to 18 rolls.

By Claire Hopley, Globe Correspondent

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