Let’s see, so far this year, I’ve made pumpkin pie, muffins, tea cake, oatmeal, pancakes, cheesecake, cupcakes, risotto, soup, ravioli, scones, chili, and biscotti. Wow, when you put it that way, it’s a little embarrassing. Clearly I can’t leave any categories out, and so – pumpkin yeast bread.
Truth be told, my mind jumped immediately to French toast when I saw this recipe. Tender pumpkin-tinged bread, sliced thick and dipped in fall-spiced custard, fried in butter until golden, topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. Oh yeah.
That’s exactly what I got, and it was even better than I’d hoped. Perfect French toast, and I’m also thinking this bread will be fantastic just toasted and topped with butter. Ooh, or with pumpkin butter! Or made into bread pudding! Or heck, just eaten plain, still warm from the oven. I love pumpkin.
One year ago: European-Style Hearth Bread
Makes 2 small loaves
It seems like I had to add quite a bit of flour to this to give it the right consistency. It shouldn’t really be sticky, so don’t be afraid to add more flour if necessary.
4½ cups bread flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
⅓ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1¾ cups pumpkin
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted and cooled
1. Stand mixer: Mix the flour, yeast, spices, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. In a large measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs and whisk in the pumpkin and butter. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the liquid ingredients. Continue mixing on medium-low until the dough is elastic and supple, about 8 minutes. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – soft but not sticky.
By hand: Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs and whisk in the pumpkin and butter. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir the mixture until the dough comes together. Transfer it to a floured board or countertop and knead, incorporating as little flour as possible, for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and supple. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – soft but not sticky.
2. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp dishtowel. Set the dough aside to rise until it has doubled in volume, about 1½ hours.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Using a serrated knife, cut the dough in half, then cut each half into three equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch rope.
4. Working with three ropes at a time, place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Braid them together, pinching the ends together and tucking them under the loaf. Repeat with the remaining logs. Set the braids aside, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap or a damp dish towel, to rise for 1 hour; they should look puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk.
5. Adjust a rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375°F. Bake the loaves for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center reads 185-195°F. Remove the braids from oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Serve them warm or at room temperature.