It is that time of the year, when leaves turn orange and red, pumpkins pop up in every recipe (including many where they don’t belong, but let’s not get into a sour mood).  I share with you today a sourdough bread to celebrate Fall. It does have a little canned pumpkin in the formula, but I promise you the taste is very mild, it just contributes moisture and it slightly changes the final texture of the crumb. We loved this bread and hope you’ll also like it if you make it.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

475 g white bread flour
25 g whole wheat flour
120g starter at 100%
100 g canned pumpkin
340g water
10g salt

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and using the dough hook, work the dough for 4 minutes at low speed. Adjust flour if necessary, it should still stick to the bottom of the bowl not cleaning it completely as the dough moves.

Remove from the bowl, knead briefly by hand and let it ferment for 3 and a half hours folding every 45 minutes. Shape as a round loaf, refrigerate overnight, seam side up.

Heat the oven to 450F, invert the dough on parchment paper, so that the smooth side is now up. Dust the surface with regular flour, lightly but uniformly. Score with a brand new razor blade, in concentric arcs from the center. Bake for 45 minutes in a Dutch oven, covered for 30 minutes, removing the lid for the final 15 min.  Let it cool completely before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve been really in love with this method of starting the kneading in the KitchenAid and finishing with foldings. It gets a nice jump start on gluten formation, and it has the advantage of being very “clean”.  When you do the whole incorporation by hand, the two initial foldings can be pretty messy, the dough gets on the fingers, sticks to the sides of the bowl… it’s not too big a deal, but allowing the KitchenAid to do that initial work makes clean up so much easier. I know bread baking purists will turn their noses but… it works for me.

This bread was a loud, loud singer as it cooled down. And the crumb had the kind of structure we like. Not too open, not too tight.

As I mentioned, you cannot taste pumpkin, it is just a very mellow sourdough, with a creamy texture given by the pumpkin puree. If you like a more orange hint to the crumb, adding turmeric is a good option, but not too much, I’d say 1/2 tsp for this size loaf.

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I admit, I caved into the recent trend of shaping bread as a pumpkin. Thanksgiving is right at the corner, and this bread would be perfect to celebrate the occasion. You can use any bread dough you like, but to keep with the seasonal atmosphere, some canned pumpkin puree found its way into my recipe. I kept hydration a bit lower, as I did not want the bread to expand too much. It was a wild experiment (got it? wild yeast involved), and I am a bit surprised that it worked so well on my first attempt. Beginner’s luck?

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by photos everywhere)

400 g bread flour
100 g spelt flour
300 g water
120 g canned pumpkin puree
120 g active sourdough starter
12 g  fine sea salt 

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, no need to make it very smooth at this point. Just form a shaggy mixture and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Ferment the dough for 4 hours at room temperature, folding a few times during this period. I did 4 cycles of folding, at about 45 min intervals, allowing the dough to rest untouched after the 4th folding cycle. Shape it as a ball, place in a well-floured banetton and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Next day, place pieces of kitchen twine as shown in the composed picture over parchment paper. Grease the kitchen twine slightly so it won’t glue to the bread. Place the bread on top, seam side down, and cover it slightly with flour, rubbing it with your hands to form a nice coating. Tie the twine around it to form the wedges of a pumpkin. If desired, add a pattern with a very sharp razor blade, held in your fingers (be careful).

Immediately place the shaped bread in a Dutch oven, cover it, and place into a 450 F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for 15 minutes more, until golden brown. Let it cool completely, remove the twine, and slice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  This bread was a complete impulse bake. I need to tell you a little secret, though. I was contacted by our newspaper in town to be part of their Monday feature called “Our Neighbors.”  They feature someone in town that does something cool, or special, or fun. And for some reason they thought that a scientist who works with bacteria at KSU during the day and blogs on the side, could be featured. They stopped at home to take pictures and I quickly assembled this dough, having refreshed my Star starter in the morning. You know, the ultra-active starter I got from my friend Elaine. They took a ton of pictures of me kneading the dough, I was hoping they would include one in the article, but they picked a different one, in which my pumpkin bread dough is already covered for its final fermentation.

If you like to read the article, click here. If the link is blocked where you live, click page 1 and page 2 for PDF versions.

But back to bread. This was so easy to shape, main thing is to make sure the strings stay put where you want them as you move the bread to the Dutch oven. Since I use a cold pot, it’s easier to go back inside and tweak the twine (I was really hoping to use this phrase). The pumpkin flavor is not evident, you won’t say it’s pumpkin, but it gives the sourdough a softer texture (crumb included) and a sweeter taste, a lot of the sourdough character will be toned down. We really liked it.

I hope you give this bread a try. Evidently, no need to use a sourdough, any formula will work, just adapt the fermentation time and go for it. You can also use roasted pumpkin made from scratch. Honestly, I don’t know how that will compare with canned pumpkin in terms of hydration. I prefer to use canned because it’s pretty reproducible, but I am sure the bread tolerates a certain range of hydration values without too many issues. Worth experimenting with. It’s just a little flour, water, and yeast, after all…

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