Tangy sourdough combines with rich pumpkin puree to flavor this bread to perfection. The fragrant loaves are a reminder that there’s a chill in the air and comfort food is beckoning…a harbinger of the coming holidays.
A turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich on sourdough pumpkin bread? French toast with pure maple syrup? Crackly, chewy rolls with soft interiors? Yes, PLEASE!
Sourdough starter is always hanging out in my refrigerator…unless I’ve killed it. Sourdough and houseplants are at risk in my household. I either smother them with attention or forget about them until it’s too late to rectify the situation.
Which is why I keep dried sourdough in my freezer; it’s a backup plan that has come in very handy.
If you don’t have sourdough starter, there are several options:
- Start your own. I had a tough time with this in the past, but the method I used this time was easier than I expected. Maybe I just got lucky and caught the right yeast, but it was pretty painless.
- Beg some off of a friend. I’ve done this too, but if I kill the starter I feel really guilty (sorry, Laurie!) so I tend to muddle through by myself.
- Send away for some that is a strain from the 1800s…absolutely free. You just need to send a self-addressed stamped envelope (and I encourage a small donation). I love the idea of having starter with a pedigree! Go here for more information: Carl’s Friends.
At least once a week I remove some of my starter (replacing it with flour and water, of course) and mix up a “sponge” – a batter that sits all night and is ready for action the next morning. I use 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast in the sponge, but if you’re a purist you can skip the yeast entirely. Just be aware that you will be at the whim of your dough; it will rise when it damn well pleases! I get a little insurance by using that tiny bit of added yeast.
Since you won’t know exactly how long your bread will take to rise, I strongly recommend starting your sponge the night before and mixing your dough the next day.
It’s usually just a matter of adding some water, salt, and flour to get a lovely, crusty loaf of dough – but for this recipe I also added 15-ounces of canned pumpkin puree. (Be careful, don’t use the kind that’s premixed for pies. Grab the solid-pack pumpkin.) I also added a little less water and a little more flour to offset the moisture in the pumpkin.
Note: For a milder flavor, decrease the pumpkin to 1 cup and increase the warm water to 1 cup in the bread recipe.
|Pumpkin Sourdough Bread|| |
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 2½ cups unbleached flour
- 1½ cups water, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast (optional)
- The bubbly sponge
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin
- ¾ cup warm water
- 1½ tablespoons salt
- 6 - 6½ cups bread flour
- Night before: Create the sponge by combining all of the sponge ingredients and beating well with a wooden spoon. Cover and allow the sponge to sit at room temperature overnight.
- Bread: in a large bowl (a stand mixer and dough hook is recommended) combine the bubbly sponge, pumpkin, water, salt, and 6 cups of bread flour. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand on floured surface for 7-8 minutes. Dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and be just slightly tacky. If dough is too soft, add additional flour a little at a time.
- Cover bowl and allow dough to rise until doubled. If you used a little yeast in the sponge, this will take between 1 - 2 hours. If you skipped the yeast, it could take much longer. Be patient and let the bread do its thing. The longer it takes to rise, the more flavorful the bread will be.
- When dough has doubled, punch it down on a lightly floured surface and shape it into loaves. Place in lightly greased loaf pans or form into balls and place on baking sheets with a little cornmeal sprinkled on them. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until doubled. With a sharp knife or razor, cut several shallow diagonal slashes in the loaves (or an "X" on round loaves).
- Heat oven to 425 F. For the crispiest crust, place a pan of water on the bottom of the rack while the oven is heating. Be very careful when you open the door - there will be lots of steam. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to spray the loaves and the inside of the oven when you put the pans in to bake.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until loaves are rich golden brown. For a shiny crust, brush hot loaves with butter. Cool on racks.
I’m a sourdough fiend. Can’t resist a piece (or two) of toasted sourdough with a little peanut butter.
Once you have an active starter, making sourdough bread is a cinch! My goal is to make as little mess as possible, so I mix my sponge right in the mixer bowl, then just dump the remaining ingredients in the next day. I don’t turn it out into a greased bowl to rise – just cover the mixing bowl. It seriously takes 15 minutes of effort to make a couple of loaves. You just have to time it for when you’ll be hanging around the house.
My guess is, with the scent of sourdough wafting through the air, everyone will be hanging around the house. Get the butter ready!