Autumn has finally descended upon my neck of the woods (so to speak) and with it, the arrival of “all things pumpkin” as the Internet (and Starbucks…and Trader Joe’s) tends to tout. I will freely admit that I have a sweet spot for pumpkin – its flavors hint at nostalgia without the tears. My roommate, after a Trader Joe’s run, returned home with pumpkin soup, pumpkin chai tea, pumpkin rooibus tea…and then there was me with my gigantic can of pumpkin purée.
The question is, however, what can you do with pumpkin puree that is new and exciting ? I’ve made the muffins, I’m made the quickbread, and the pie has a place on a Thanksgiving table.
So began the hunt for a new way to use pumpkin. I knew I wanted something more on the savory side…like…a dinner roll ! A yeast bread ! Hm !
I found a great recipe from the King Arthur Flour webpage- a simple google search will bring you there (I may have misplaced the link…). I modified it slightly – the recipe here is halved but makes LOTS of bread (I snuck two medium loaves from these quantities) and I added honey, rosemary, and salt to the mix. An experiment, the work paid off (nibble nibble nibble) because it tastes just sweet enough to be paired with honey butter or even a marmalade OR a savory dish with chicken or a sauce. Oo. Asiago cheese would probably pair well with this concoction as well. The possibilities are endless !
A wonderfully soft texture and a rich color to boot, this recipe is worth the time and will certainly have a spot on my Thanksgiving table…or my kitchen table. :)
For the dough :
1/4 cup warm water
1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large eggs, beaten
1 cups puréed pumpkin, either fresh or canned
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups (approximately) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
A few shakes of ground ginger
3 pinches rosemary
For the glaze :
1 egg yolk,
In a large bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, yeast, ginger and rosemary.
Stir to combine well. Add the warm water and begin to stir. In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and milk.
Be sure to allow the pumpkin and eggs to reach room temperature before combining with the other wet ingredients. Also, the milk should be warmed – yeast likes a warm environment because it stimulates their life cycle/reactions. And we want those little yeasties to have a party in our bread dough !
Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add about 1/2 cups more of flour (or more) until the dough is tough enough to knead. Mine looked like this and it worked out well.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough. This took me about 10 minutes for me, but knead until you can mold it into a ball without difficulty OR extremely messy fingers.
When you are kneading bread, you are creating gluten networks between the starch molecules. This changes the texture and facilitates the trapping of the gas released by the little yeasties. Food. It’s snazzy.
Place dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a towel (or a plastic bag), letting it rise until doubled, about 1 hour. If it rises for longer, it won’t be an issue. But an hour is certainly enough time to get a fantastic reaction out of the dough.
When ready, turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Divide dough in half – I did not because I didn’t think I would have such a huge loaf of bread so I have two uneven loaves SO do yourself a favor and split it up). This bread can easily be shaped into loaves or dinner roles…but I thought a braid would be more elegant given the rich color of the dough.
Braiding is actually simple (though it looks tough). Start by spreading the dough out into a large rectangular shape (photos to follow). Using a sharp knife, make 4 long cuts in the dough – you are essentially creating a giant jellyfish, with the bit you are cutting turning into tentacles. (Please excuse the metaphor. I’m an English minor). When you make the cuts, LEAVE THE TOP CONNECTED. You’ll see what I mean in the photos. Reshape the tentacles so that they are even and then braid them ! Braiding with five is easy – just pull the outside layer from the left to the inside, then the outermost RIGHT side layer to the inside, then left to the inside and right to the inside blablabla until BAM ! You have a giant braid on your hands. For the last part, just twist them and tuck them under the end of the braid. (The photos are with four strands because I didn’t have an assistant when I did five…) Pow. Like magic, you have a snazzy looking loaf of bread.
Lay the bread on a well-oiled baking sheet. Mix together the egg and water and brush over the top of the bread. Drizzle honey over the top of the braid, followed by a sprinkling of rosemary and some sea salt crystals.
Let rise for about 45 minutes or until nice and puffy. Place in the oven and let cook for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. The bread will NOT sound hollow when cooked, as it is very soft, but I just used my nose. You can also use a thermometer to test the “doneness” of the bread (I believe it’s 190F….might want to check on that as I possess not such a thermometer.)
Serve nice and hot with melted butter…or place on your table (with a TARDIS !) and let your roommates devour it. :)
Bon appétit !