This month Cathy picked a Rustic Pumpkin Bread for The Bread Baking Babes to bake. Pumpkin Breads have been around for a very long time. I understand pumpkins were called Pompions in the old days. One of the earliest Pumpkin Bread recipe featured in an 18th century periodical called The Family Magazine.
From the Family Magazine, 1741 : “Slice a pompion, and boil it in fair water, till the water grows clammy, or somewhat thick; then strain it through a fine cloth, or sieve, and with this make your Bread, well kneading the dough; and it will not only increase the quantity of it, but make it keep moist and sweet a month longer than Bread made with fair water only.”
Baking powder is generally the leavening agent for pumpkin bread these days. However, the earliest Pumpkin Breads were leavened with yeast. They were also mostly unsweetened and made with cornmeal rather than flour. Catherine Beecher’s 1850 recipe Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book, contains just pumpkin, cornmeal, salt, and yeast. Pumpkin Bread slowly evolved in the 20th century to become today’s sweet and spiced cake like breads.
I’m not new to making Pumpkin Bread but I haven’t baked this version before. As mentioned above, there’s nothing new or unusual about adding pumpkin to bakes. Pumpkin adds colour, a faint sweetness, moisture and texture to cakes, muffins and breads without an overpowering flavour.
This recipe is a bit different from the others I’ve baked from because it uses a Pâte fermentée. Pâte fermentée is a French term for “old” or fermented dough. Traditionally, this was a portion of the previous day’s dough that was used to start the next day’s dough. A very small amount of yeast is also added to the bread dough. Both together help improve the flavour of the bread. Pâte fermentée can be made from scratch and is generally ready to use after a few hours. It can be refrigerated and be used over 3 days as required.
I made slight changes to the Cathy’s original recipe. This Rustic Pumpkin Bread is savoury and cumin flavoured. Pumpkin puree adds a beautiful golden colour and mild flavour to the bread. Roasting the pumpkin before pureeing it adds more flavour.
The real appeal, to me anyways, is its shape and scoring pattern. The dough is shaped and proofed as usual into a round. It is then tied with string (procedure in the recipe) and scored decoratively just before putting it in the oven. This produces the typical pumpkin shape.
Happy World Bread Day too.
Rustic Pumpkin Bread
Pâte fermentée / Pre-ferment:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup water (more or less)
- 1/8 tsp instant yeast
- All the above Pâte fermentée
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds coarsely crushed
First Day/ previous Night: Make the Pâte fermentée
- Whisk together the flours and yeast in a bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Pour the water in gradually and mix using a large wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk until everything comes together to form a smooth ball.
- Adjust the water or flour as necessary to make a dough that isn’t too sticky or stiff. Knead the dough until it is soft and pliable and tacky but not sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment overnight at room temperature (about 6 to 8 hours).
Next Morning: Make the Final Dough/Bake Bread
- The next morning, pinch the Pâte fermentée into smaller pieces and drop into the bowl of your machine. Add all the other ingredients for the dough and knead adding a little water if necessary to form a soft and pliable dough. Adjust with flour if necessary to make a soft, pliable dough that is tacky but not sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a clean large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough ferment at room temperature for 2 hours or so till double in volume. Stretch and fold the dough after the 1st hour, then let it rest the final hour.
- Transfer the dough to a work surface dusted with flour. Gently knead the dough and shape roughly into a round. Let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes.
- In the meanwhile line a baking tray with a large round piece of parchment, about 10 or 11-inches in diameter. Cut four 25-inch pieces of food-safe twine. Brush each piece with oil using a pastry brush or your fingers. Make sure each piece is oiled well. Place the oiled strings like spokes of a wheel, on the parchment, all crossing at the centre crisscrossed on the parchment. It should look like a pie divided into 8 wedges.
- Shape the rested dough into a tight smooth round and place it carefully, seam side down, on the centre of the intersecting twines. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 40 minutes or so.
- Pre-heat your oven to 230C (450F). While the oven is pre-heating, uncover the dough and tie the opposite strings together. Tie them so they’re just flush but do not bite into the dough. Trim off the excess string. When tied up, it will look like the round dough is divided into 8 equal portions.
- Bake the tied and scored dough about 25 to 30 minutes till rich golden brown in colour and done. It should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let it cool for 1 hour before removing the strings.
- Cut the strings with scissors and carefully pull them out a little bit at a time. After the string has been removed, let the loaf rest on the cooling rack until completely cool.
The Bread Baking Babes are –