October is generally our warmest month. It’s the time of year where we fret about hot weather + wind, which creates the recipe to fuel wildfires. I find myself longing for the change of seasons that we typically don’t get here. Beautiful leaf color transformations and crisp, cool weather are nowhere to be found. I’m anxious to rid my closet of shorts and flip flops and replace them with fuzzy sweaters and boots. This week we endured brutal 97 degree heat. Taking advantage of the rather warm, oven-like interior of our house, I decided to bake bread. I pulled out that much-talked-about Artisan Bread Cookbook and flipped through… eager to find something fall-like that would combat the feeling of our extended summer. Success! A savory sort of pumpkin bread: Oatmeal Pumpkin Seed Bread.
My first foray into Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I was determined to follow the directions to a T. This included making homemade pumpkin puree… also a first. It involved amazingly little effort- just chopping a pie pumpkin in half and roasting it in the oven until softened. Scoop out the seeds & toss, and then scoop out the flesh, mash it with a fork, and it’s ready to use. So simple (who knew?) Hertzberg and Francois offer the option of using canned pumpkin, but they explain that ‘roasting your own pumpkin caramelizes the sugars and intensifies the flavors.’ I couldn’t argue with that, so I went for more flavor.
The premise behind this cookbook is to make a refrigerated pre-mixed homemade dough ahead of time. When you’re ready to bake, you simply take some of the dough out of the fridge, shape it (thus the 5 minute part), give it time to rise, and it’s ready for the oven.
There was a ‘plain’ version of this pumpkin bread offered in the cookbook, but I turned out the more fancy version of added dried cranberries and toasted pepitas. Straight from the fridge, the dough is rolled out slightly, sprinkled with the berries and pepitas, and then rolled up again.
It’s then shaped into a loaf and placed into a loaf pan to rise for a couple of hours.
I brushed my loaf with an egg wash after rising and added some pepitas for decor on top.
The loaf turned a nice, golden brown and the top crust remained crispy. I resisted cutting into it while warm as the authors suggested that the texture of the bread improves as it cools.
I do have to say that I like the premise behind this bread baking cookbook and, believe me… I’m no bread expert. I can definitely count on one hand the number of times I’ve made a yeasted bread. But I followed the directions that these authors put forth and it all worked out great. My dough only produced two smallish loaves though rather than three. Because of that, next time I would bake these up in 8-inch loaf pans instead of the 9-inch indicated in the recipe.
My family was overjoyed when I told them I had made pumpkin bread. I crushed their enthusiasm when I explained that it actually wasn’t a sweet bread, but rather more like one that would be appropriate for toast or tea. A smidge of butter and a dollop of fresh cranberry jam, and this made quite the delicious breakfast. I’m hoping to try it out as bread for a turkey and cranberry sandwich. The loaf I tucked into our freezer will be handy when Thanksgiving rolls around this year.
We’ve had exactly two days of fall-weather so far. While I’ve been baking (literally and figuratively) in my kitchen, I’ve also been craving the cool weather of New England and other lucky places that are experiencing a noticeable change-of-seasons. Cranking up the air conditioner to simulate the chill of fall is an option, I suppose, but in this wobbly, uncertain economy… I think I’d rather bake.
This recipe can be found here: Oatmeal Pumpkin Seed Bread