There are some days that are just plain nasty. It’s cold outside, or rainy, and all you really want to do is stay in, huddle up to a toasty oven and bake while reading a good book. As fall sets in I am encountering more and more of those days. Days where the rain outside makes everything gray and the world seems like it would be much more appealing in my warm and cozy, down comforter covered bed with a good book. As I am home more on rainy days trying to come up with creative ways to spend my time that don’t involve replaying Diablo 2 (which is AMAZING) I head for the oven and my baking bibles - Flour, Boston Cooking School, the internet – whatever strikes my fancy and I bake a lot, usually more baking than BF and I can eat on our own, happens in the colder weather. It’s an obsession, also – I tend to bake so I don’t have to turn up the heat!
This pumpkin bread was baked on one of those gross, rainy autumn days that kept me tied to my apartment and fidgety. BF had been asking me to make monkey bread so I went to the pantry hunting for a recipe (really the only recipe I use, the one from Smitten Kitchen) but it was a white monkey bread, I wanted mine to be pumpkin – so I did what I always do when I don’t have a recipe for something, I called my mom. After a discussion on the rain, yes it was raining in Maine and Boston (such craziness!) I got around to my question; can I sub in pumpkin for a liquid in bread or did she have a yeast bread recipe with pumpkin? She paused, reprimanded my little brother and then proceeded to consult her wall of cookbooks. As Mom searched her cookbooks I searched the net – to no joy, seriously the internet makes me a sad panda sometimes. Mom however, was victorious – nestled in the pages of the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook was a recipe for yeast risen pumpkin bread, what joy! I flipped over the monkey bread recipe and wrote down ingredients and steps. I was ready.
So I measured, mixed, kneaded, waited, shaped, waited, baked and ate. Making yeast risen bread is one of my favorite activities and on a rainy day it was perfect. And this bread? I made it three ways – as a cinnamon roll (which I sent to work with BF), a plain loaf of pumpkin bread, and monkey bread (of course). I think the cinnamon raisin bread was the best usage of the dough and next time I will not try to make it stretch so far. The monkey bread was dense and over cooked and the plain loaf lacked the oomph I was looking for. But the cinnamon-raisin bread? it was bread gold; rich and sweet without being cloying. It was decadent and totally fantastic.
Yeast Risen Pumpkin Bread
Adapted via Mommy from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook
Note: This makes two full loaves, don’t try to stretch it into three unless you’re making mini loaves anyway. I adapted this recipe a little bit out of necessity because I realized I only had one egg, so this is mine after the one egg change.
For the Bread Dough
1 1/2 cup milk, at 110 degrees (should be just warm to the touch)
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs yeast
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (I always use One Pie, made in Maine of Maine pumpkins
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups all purpose (AP) flour
1 Tbs salt
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups AP flour
For the Cinnamon raisin swirl
1/4 cup butter melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2-1 cup raisins
In a large bowl combine the milk, yeast, and sugar and allow it to get bubbly (2-3 mins). Add the egg, butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix until everything is fully incorporated and smooth. Add the 2 cups of flour and salt to the liquid mixture. It should look like a thick brownie batter at this point (but orangey as opposed to dark chocolatey). Add the additional flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky and is in a nice dough ball. Knead this dough ball for 3-4 minutes – until it is smooth and elastic. Allow the dough to rest for 3-4 minutes then briefly knead it again. Put the fully kneaded dough into a large, clean, oiled bowl, cover it with either plastic wrap or a bread towel (one with no terry on it), and let it rise until doubled in volume. This takes about two hours. Maybe you should go watch a movie? And since it’s October I will suggest Zombieland, because it’s fun.
After your dough has risen go ahead and punch it down, you know you want to. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and split it into two halves with a sharp knife (or counter scraper if yours is sharp like mine). Move one half of the dough over to the side. Roll the second half of the dough out until it’s about 9″ wide (this should be the height of your bread pan) and 15″ long. Using a pastry brush, spread half of the melted butter onto the rolled out dough. Sprinkle the melted butter with half of the brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Starting on the 9″ edge roll the dough up. Tuck in the ends and place the loaf in a well greased pan with the seam side down. Repeat with the second loaf of bread. Cover the shaped loaves and let them rise a second time, this time for just half an hour or so to let the gluten calm down.
Place the bread loaves in a cold oven preheating to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, cook for 15 mins. Turn down the temp to 375 and leave the loaves for 20 mins. The loaves will be a nice golden brown when done. When the bread is still hot rub butter over the top, this will keep the bread from getting too hard and dry and it will also infuse it with butter, which is AWESOME. Eat this bread as breakfast or a late night snack, maybe with some Doves and Figs jam?