There is no doubt about it, we are at the peak of pumpkin season. Everywhere you look there is pumpkin. Pumpkin in in your baked goods, oatmeal, and yes it's in your coffee. Really, when you think about it, do you really want your coffee to taste like pumpkin? The truth is that the majority of pumpkin recipes don't really taste like pumpkin at all. Which is probably a good thing. Sometimes I wonder why we even bother to put the pumpkin in most pumpkin recipes at all. I understand the novelty, but why not just put the spices and call them fall spice recipes or something? So, I have decided that I would share at least of couple of recipes this fall that really let the pumpkin flavor shine through. I have to confess that I am just as guilty as anyone of sharing "pumpkin spice" recipes as well, and I can't promise that there won't be more of those too, but for now let's talk about this pumpkin bread.
First of all, I had the hardest time trying to figure out what to call it. I knew if I called it Pumpkin Bread that you would think it was one of those overly spiced types of tea cakes. I wanted you to know that this is actually bread, so maybe Yeasted Pumpkin Bread. Yet, I somehow feel like the word "yeast" doesn't scream out delicious. Maybe it's just me. So, I just went with the original name for this loaf of pumpkin goodness. I'm sorry that the pumpkin takes a back seat in the title, but it certainly does not take a back seat in flavor. The first thing I noticed when I took a bite of this bread was that it actually tasted like pumpkin. Real pumpkin! Because I really wanted to highlight the pumpkin-ness of this loaf I decided not to add any additional spices, but I think it would be wonderful with rosemary, or I'll admit maybe some of those traditional pumpkin pie spices. The loaf slices well, would make a great seasonal sandwich bread, or toast with a little cinnamon and sugar in the morning. It has a dense crumb, so I found it perfect for sopping up the broth at the end of a bowl of hot soup. A perfect fall meal if you ask me.
adapted from The Food Matters Cook Book by Mark Bittman
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Stir in the pumpkin and 1/4 cup water. The dough should be quite wet at this point, more like a batter than a dough. If it seems too dry add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until all the dry ingredients have been thoroughly incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot for about two hours or until the surface of the dough is dotted with bubbles.
Grease a 9x5 inch bread pan with a little of the vegetable oil. Scoop the dough into the pan and spread evenly. Brush the dough with the remaining vegetable oil and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake bread for about 45 minutes, until golden colored and hollow sounding when tapped. Let bread cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for about an hour before turning out onto the rack to cool completely. Slice when completely cool.