Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Bread

Breads are quickly becoming one of my favorite items to learn about and to make! There’s so much science to unravel about the contribution of the varying ingredients in each loaf of bread.

This last weekend, I tried to make a Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin bread from the Baking with Julia cookbook. The recipe called for enough dough to make three small loaves. I, however, missed the ‘three’ detail and split the dough into halves. I then, in a ‘spacey’ moment, placed the halves in a small loaf pan (5.75 x 3.25 x 2 in) and standard loaf pan (9 x 5 in base). The loaf in the small loaf pan was not able to rise enough and did not come out well because there was simply too much dough in it. The standard loaf was able to rise enough, though, and came out great. So either use three small loaf pans or two standard loaf pans. The pictures shown in this blog are from the standard loaf. The bread tastes great at breakfast with eggs, coffee, etc. The cranberries, raisins and walnuts add great texture to the slightly sweet, moist lightly pumpkin flavored bread. I love anything that balances texture and taste.

This recipe is from Steve Sullivan from the Baking with Julia cookbook. I made some slight modifications to it, to work in my environment. Makes two medium-sized loaves or three smaller loaves of bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 2/3 to 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons tepid water (80 to 90 deg F)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) pureed cooked pumpkin or butternut squash, fresh or canned solid packed (to make fresh, split the squash, remove seeds and bake cut side down on a baking sheet at 350 deg F for 1 hour or until tender. Scoop out pulp. 1 lb squash = 12 oz pulp)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1 cup plump golden raisins or dark raisins (I used the golden raisins)
  • 2/3 cup cranberries

Whisk 2 2/3 cup of flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. In a second bowl combine the yeast and tepid water. Allow to rest until yeast mixture is creamy (~5 min).

Using a mixer or by hand, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Then add the pumpkin/squash and egg until blended. Then at low speed, add the yeast mixture and the flour mixture, a half cup at a time. As soon as the mixture starts to form into a dough, switch to a dough hook or kneading by hand. If the dough is too sticky, add small quantities of bread flour.

Mix and/or knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it balls up in the mixer or forms a tight sticky dough ball. At low speed, add the walnuts and raisins until mixed in. Then add the cranberries, mixing as little as possible to prevent crushing them.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Depending on the room temperature, leave the bowl on the counter (if it’s warm) or in a 170 deg F oven (if it’s winter) to rise until doubled in size for about 2 hours. This is the first rise.

When the dough has doubled, fold it over on itself a couple times to deflate it, wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

At least 6 hours before you plan to bake the bread, remove it from the fridge. Allow the dough, in it’s bowl, to come to 64 deg F (measure with a thermometer) or when the dough is soft and spongy. This may take 3-4 hours. Then split the dough into thirds or halves, depending on what size loaf pans you have available. Butter the pans. The stretch out each dough part into a rectangle (approx 5 x 7 in rectangle for the small loaf pans and slightly larger for the standard loaf pans). Starting at the top of the rectangle, roll the dough towards you. Seal the ends and place each roll seam side down in a prepared pan.

Cover the pans with a damp towel. Again, depending on your room temperature, leave the covered loaf pans on the counter or in a 170 deg F oven for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled (near the rim). I placed the large loaf pan in the oven and it worked perfectly.

After the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Bake the loaf for 35 minutes or until deeply golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning the loaf out and allowing it to cool further.

The bread can be kept at room temperature for a few days and can be frozen airtight for up to a month.

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