Monday, November 15, 2010
Sooooo... It finally happened. Yesterday I decided I just had to make some bread (since it had already been since Friday - and it was already Sunday) but honestly, none of my recipes looked exciting. Not one of them did a thing for me. I debated back and forth, and finally, like I said, I just started making the recipe up myself. I had some fresh pumpkin in the refrigerator and everything else needed of course. The internal debate was whether I should make a sandwich loaf or a boule type artisan loaf. I chose the boule. I know, I know. The loaf would be more practical and be eaten faster, maybe. Also, since this was going to be an everyday bread (not a special holiday-type bread) it made sense to make a loaf. Still, the idea of a self-made (designed?) artisan loaf was enticing. I took the leap.
I knew certain things in advance. For instance, I know that I need about 1 Tablespoon of yeast to about 3 cups of flour. Whole wheat takes a little more, but this would be AP flour. Also, it would need maybe a cup of warm water. The variable, and therefore, the area of experimenting was in my surprise ingredient, i.e., the pumpkin. The added volume and even more importantly, liquid. But how much? I didn't know. Also, although I wanted the sweetness of the pumpkin to come through (and it did!) I knew it would add sweetness, just not how much. That meant I would need to adjust the amount of sugar. Oh, and I didn't want orange bread. I have recipes for sweet potato muffins, for example, that come out orange. Somehow that is ok for muffins. And yes, I know, I only recently made tomato bread that is quite reddish in color. Still, orange? I don't know. So I boiled the pumpkin to make it soft and drained it really well. Then I mashed it with a fork. The end result was whitish bread with flecks of orange, perfect.
Here's What You'll Need:
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. yeast
about 2/3 cup mashed boiled pumpkin
3 to 3 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 Tbs. salt
Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Cut up the pumpkin into chunks then cover with water. Boil about 10 minutes or until soft enough to mash with a fork.
2. In the meantime, mix the sugar with the water to dissolve, then mix in the yeast. Let it stand for about 10 minutes until in becomes quite bubbly.
3. Mix in 1 cup of the flour, and stir vigorously to make a smooth slurry. Then add the pumpkin (after it has cooled so you don't kill the yeast!!).
4. Add the flour, one cup at a time mixing thoroughly each time until you have a smooth but quite sticky dough.
5. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured tabletop. Continue kneading in more flour to make a dough which is still soft but only slightly tacky.
6. Place this dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
7. Carefully move the dough from the bowl to a greased, and floured (I used cornmeal) baking sheet. Tuck the edges underneath stretching the surface to form a ball shape. Place the dough on the board with the stretched edges down. Try to avoid de-gassing the dough as much as possible while shaping and placing it. Cover it lightly with oiled plastic wrap to rest for about 30 minutes.
8. About 15 minutes before baking time preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Place a baking stone, if you have one, on the middle rack of the oven and a small pan on the bottom of the oven.
9. Just before baking, pour about 2 cups of boiling water into the pan and quickly close the oven door to create a steamy atmosphere for the bread. If you want you can also spray the walls of the oven a few times to make it even steamier.
10. Bake the bread either directly on the stone or, like I did, by placing your baking sheet on the stone, for about 30 minutes. It will be a very dark brown color. If you think it is getting too dark, lightly cover it with aluminum foil during baking to slow the browning process.