by Caroline

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of quick breads. Especially during the school year, rarely a week goes by that I’m not turning our extra bananas/apples/pears/pumpkin/summer squash into a batch of muffins or a loaf of bread for snack. But this recipe by Stephanie Rosenbaum for a yeasted pumpkin bread caught my eye recently, and it’s terrific. You can add pumpkin pie spice (or your own blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg) for a nice breakfast or tea bread, or leave the spices out for a fabulous sandwich bread. Another time, I will write at greater length about working with yeast and why I don’t think it’s so hard; in the meantime, I suggest you just dive in and bake this bread.

Here’s the recipe, straight from Bay Area Bites:

Yeasted Pumpkin Bread
You can go sweet or savory with this bread. Reduce or remove the brown sugar altogether and leave out the spices for a more savory bread; add sweet autumn-y spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to make it more of a breakfast or teatime treat. Cinnamon can be a little overwhelming, so try experimenting with just a couple, like nutmeg and cloves. Pregrated nutmeg quickly loses its punch, so try grating a fresh whole nutmeg using the fine holes of a box grater or microplane. The flavor difference is quite amazing.

Makes: 2 loaves or 2 dozen rolls

1/4 cup warm water
1 package (2 1/4 tsps) active dry yeast
2 cups roasted, mashed pumpkin or other winter squash
2 tablespoons pumpkin-seed, walnut, or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and/or cloves, optional
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 cups whole-wheat flour
3-4 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
Egg glaze: 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tbsp water

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water. Let stand for a few minutes, then whisk to dissolve.

2. Mix pumpkin, oil, milk, eggs, brown sugar, salt, spices if using, cornmeal, and whole-wheat flour into yeast mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon to make a thick batter.

3. One cup at a time, add white flour, stopping when you have a soft but manageable dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

4. Wash, dry, and lightly oil the bowl you were just using. Now, knead the dough with gusto for 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle over small amounts of remaining flour as needed; dough will tend to be sticky. Use patience and a dough scraper, and resist the temptation to dump in a whole bunch of flour to make it behave one and for all.

5. When dough has become smooth and elastic, return the dough to the oiled bowl. Swish around and turn over to make sure the whole ball of dough is lightly coated with oil. Cover bowl with a clean dishtowel and let rise in a warmish place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat into a large, flat rectangle. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds. Roll up dough, rolling and kneading gently to distribute cranberries and seeds throughout dough.

7. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a round or rectangular loaf. You can also shape dough into small round rolls.

8. Place loaves or rolls on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Let rise until nearly double in size, about 1 hour.

9. Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush loaves or rolls with egg glaze. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes for rolls, 30-35 minutes for loaves. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.