I have been so inspired by beautiful images of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes and pumpkin used in all manner of delicious bakes these last few weeks in readiness for Halloween, that I created this monster loaf of pumpkin bread.
Pumpkin in bread is so delicious, making everything so moist, golden and a little sweet. A balance of a crunchy polenta crust adds to the texture, and maple syrup hits you with a little extra sweet goodness.
I am amazed at how soft this bread is, and how well it keeps - mind you it didn’t last very long, I had to hide some away. Highly recommended for little monsters !
I’ve continued to use the pre-fermentation technique with my pumpkin bread, am just loving the results and the fact that I can start the night before and end up with a quicker bake the next day. That means bread to tummy time is so much less !
I’ve also used my proving basket - a large rectangle this time to create this loaf. Being quite a soft and sticky dough, it really helps it to maintain it’s shape as it proves and give such a lovely rustic look to my bread. Each loaf ends up so unique. I plan to use my round basket next to make the bread more pumpkin shaped - can’t wait to see how it turns out ..
Pumpkin, Maple and Spelt Bread
Makes one large loaf of bread
For the preferment:
250g white bread making flour
50g white spelt flour
5g fast acting dry yeast (dr. oetker or saf)
200ml lukewarm water
For the dough:
200g organic bread making flour
50g organic white spelt flour
1 teaspoon malted barley flour
1/2 small butternut pumpkin (to make 200g mashed roasted pumpkin)
100ml warm water (28 deg C)
20ml maple syrup
4g (1 scant teaspoon) fast action dry yeast
10g sea salt
1 cup polenta
Start making the bread 12 hours before you plan to bake by preparing the pre-ferment.
For the pre-ferment:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the preferment (flours and yeast) by whisking them together. Make a well in the middle and add the lukewarm water. Use a spatula to gently mix everything together so that the dry ingredients are hydrated.
Move the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, and knead on a medium setting for about 6 minutes. This can also be done by hand, by kneading the mixture on a floured bench for 8-10 minutes or until it is soft and springy. Transfer the dough into an oiled bowl, large enough to hold the dough after it rises. Cover with cling wrap and leave at room temperature for an hour before transferring it to the fridge to up to 12 hours.
The next day -
Take the preferment out of the fridge to rest it at room temperature for an hour.
Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut it into large chunks. Place the pumpkin on an oven tray lined with baking paper, and bake, covered at 180 deg C fan forced, for 30 minutes until soft.
Blitz the pumpkin pieces in a blender or food processor (or using a stick blender) to a smooth puree and cool to warm
Measure out 200g and stir in the maple syrup.
To prepare the final dough:
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees celsius, fan forced. Place a rack in the top of the oven with an empty baking pan, and either a rack with a baking stone or an upturned baking tray in lower middle section of the oven.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flours, barley flour, yeast and salt using a whisk until well combined. Make a well in the centre and add the pureed pumpkin, water and pre-ferment.
Using the dough hook of a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients together on low until they are combined, then turn up the speed to medium and mix for six to eight minutes.
The dough needs to be quite soft but springy and able to pass the window pane test. If it is too sticky, add a little more plain flour. Likewise, if it appears too stiff and dry, add a little more water to the mix at the start.
The dough can also be mixed by hand on a well floured bench but is quite sticky to work with.
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or cling wrap.
Allow the dough to prove for 1-2 hours in a warm place or until it has doubled in size.
Gently transfer the dough onto a floured bench.
Shape the dough into a batard (loaf). I do this by first flattening the dough slightly to a rectangle. Fold one long side of the dough into the centre, followed by the two shorter sides, then the other long side. Press the dough down into the centre with each fold. The dough is then placed seam side down, stretching the top of the loaf as the seam is rolled toward the bottom.
Prepare a proving basket - I used a large oval basket but a rectangular or large round basket will also work well. Just shape the dough into a boule (or round) if using a round basket.
Sprinkle the basket liberally with polenta and pour the rest onto a sided tray or large shallow dish.
Use a spray bottle to spray a mist of water over the top of the shaped bread, then roll it in polenta before moving it seam side up into the basket. Sprinkle some more polenta on top and along the sides to stop it sticking.
Cover and prove until it has just started to visibly rise to about 1 1/2 times its volume.
Prepare a flat tray with a sheet of baking paper.
Invert the loaf gently onto the tray, supporting it with your hands, and out of the basket.
Quickly use a bakers lame or sharp knife to score a line down the middle of the bread. You can also customise a scoring pattern at will.
Slide the bread onto the hot baking stone or tray. Quickly fill the baking tray on the top rack with a cup of water. Follow this with splashing 1/2 a cup of water into the bottom of the oven a few times during the first 1-2 minutes of baking to really ramp up the steam.
After 5 minutes turn the oven down to 230 deg - 10 minutes, then 220deg for another 10-15 minutes or until your loaf is golden and crusty.
Remove and allow to cool on a rack before eating with loads of butter.
A little note:
I’ve been testing a whole range of proving baskets from @bakemaster_au which are soon to be released. I can honestly say that I am really loving learning to use these traditional baking tools, and experimenting with the range of shapes.
Just some tips with proving baskets before you use them.
Don’t wash them. Keep them clean by giving them a good brush.
When using them for the first time, more is better in terms of dusting them to prevent your dough from sticking, at least until you get a feel for how much dusting flour you need. I use a blend of 50:50 rice flour and plain flour and make up a batch to store. You can also use polenta as I did in this recipe. The flour blend also works for my pumpkin loaf, and is especially good if you want to do some fancy scoring.
I find that if the dough is quite wet, giving it a roll in dusting flour (or whatever you are using) as well as preparing the basket acts as extra insurance.
Happy baking ..
If you want to know more about these proving baskets head to www.bakemaster.com.au