There are a lot of great things that I look forward to with the cooler weather of Fall. There’s that first pot of soup or the first bowl of spicy chili. And for me, there’s this bread. It would be hard for me to pick my favourite bread but this one would be right up there!
This is not a sweet, dessert-like quick loaf (not that there’s anything wrong with that :). This is a yeast bread, flavoured with fresh pumpkin and dotted with raisins and toasted pecans and wonderfully colourful and tart fresh cranberries. It’s a bread that is perfect any time of day and it’s wonderful toasted. There’s just lots to love about this bread.
If you’d like to make use of some great seasonal produce, you can make your own pumpkin or butternut squash puree (instructions below) and use fresh, local cranberries (at least they are local for me :) Alternately, canned pumpkin puree and/or frozen cranberries will work just fine.
Pumpkin Cranberry Yeast Bread
Summary: This is a little different from typical yeast bread. First, it’s a wet dough, that comes together much like a brioche dough, through a long kneading period. Resist the urge to add much more flour. A stand mixer really helps here! Secondly, this is a very slow rising bread. Be patient and you will be rewarded!
- 2 2/3 cups bread flour
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. tepid water (80-90° F.)
- 2 tsp. active or instant dry yeast
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 8 ounces (1 cup) pureed cooked pumpkin or butternut squash, fresh or canned solid packed
- 1 large egg, at room temp
- 3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted (or walnuts, if you prefer)
- 1 cup plumped golden or dark raisins (let stand in warm water for 5 minutes then drain before adding)
- 2/3 cup fresh cranberries (if frozen, thaw and pat dry)
- Whisk 2 2/3 cups of the flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl just to mix. Set aside until needed.
- Pour the water into a small bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and whisk to blend. Allow the yeast to stand about 5 minutes.
- In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add the pumpkin and egg and beat until blended. The mixture may look curdled at this point but don’t worry, it will come together when you add the dry ingredients.
- Set the mixer speed to low and add the yeast, then begin to add the flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time. As soon as the mixture starts to form a dough that comes together, switch to the dough hook. Allow the dough to knead. If your dough does not come together, add more flour a tablespoon at a time, until it does.
- Knead the dough on low speed for 10 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl and the hook now and then with a rubber spatula. At first, the dough will look more like a batter than a dough, but as you continue to work, it will develop into a soft sticky dough that will just ball up on the hook. (This dough develops much the way brioche does.)
- With the machine on low speed, add the pecans and raisins, mixing only until incorporated, about 1 min. Add the cranberries and mix as little as possible to avoid crushing them. (Inevitably, some of the cranberries will pop and stain a patch of the dough red. Just think of this as charming, and proceed.)
- First Rise: Scrape the dough into a lightly buttered large bowl, Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside at room temp to rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
- Shaping the dough: Lightly butter or spray two 8 x 4″ bread loaf pans (or alternately, one 9 x 5 loaf pan, for a large loaf).
- Working on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into two pieces and pat each piece of dough into a 5 x 7″ rectangle. Starting at the long side of each rectangle, roll the dough up jelly roll style and seal the seam by pressing it together with your fingertips. Seal the ends, then place each roll, seam side down, in a prepared loaf pan. Push any exposed fruit on the top of the loaf gently into the loaf so it is covered with dough, otherwise it will burn while cooking and be bitter.
- Second Rise: Cover the pans lightly with a kitchen towel and allow to rise at room temp for 1 1/2- 2 hours, or until the dough has nearly doubled. It will rise just above the rims of the pans (mine barely got there did just rise above the height of the pan in the centre).
- Baking the bread: Centre a rack in the oven and preheat to 350° F. Bake the loaves for about 35 minutes, or until deeply golden. Remove the pans to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn the breads out of their pans and allow them to cool to room temp on the rack.
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 35 min
Total time: 4 hours 25 min
Number of servings (yield): 2 loaves