So we've come to the last pumpkin-flavored recipe of the season (I think somewhere my husband is jumping with joy). I thought I'd go out with a bang by tackling a baking project that has always intimidated me: bread...yeast bread.
The last time I tried to use those little gas-infused microorganisms was to make glazed doughnuts, and I somehow messed up their delicate balance and it turned into a disaster. This time, though, I was prepared. Since then, I've acquired a vintage candy thermometer, which I used to get the water to the right temperature before pouring it over the yeast. I also found a method for helping the dough to rise that worked like a champ (which I will share later on).
I chose a recipe for rolled cinnamon bread that I found in the 1968 Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, adding a cup of pumpkin puree into the batter to give it some fall flavor. The dough that resulted was really beautiful. Very easy to work with, nice elasticity and, after baked, very light and fluffy. The only part I was disappointed with was the cinnamon not being more swirled throughout (I even doubled the amount the of cinnamon-sugar mixture). It all kind of ended up rolled at the bottom after the dough rose, so the top didn't really get any.
I brought one of the loaves to Austin for Thanksgiving, and after showing it to my mother-in-law she suggested rolling it out thinner than the recipe says, which I'll do next time. I'll also try and roll it tighter as I go, which should hopefully help incorporate it more. Any of you veteran bread-bakers have ideas?
We found the bread is especially good when toasted and slathered with some butter. It might also make good toasted bread for a breakfast sandwich maybe? Yum. I think it's time to go thaw that other loaf...
Rolled Cinnamon-Pumpkin Bread
Yields 2 loaves
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon melted shortening
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cake yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
6 cups sifted flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar (double this and cinnamon if you want...)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pour boiling water over sugar, salt and shortening. Add milk and cool to lukewarm. Add the pumpkin puree.
Soften yeast in lukewarm water. (What I did in this step was follow the yeast packet's instructions for softening and proofing the yeast. I proofed it [added sugar] because I wanted to make sure it was active and I wasn't sure what would happen if I didn't!)
Add yeast to milk mixture and add flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until smooth after each addition. Turn out on lightly floured board and knead until dough is smooth and elastic to the touch and bubbles appear under the surface. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.
**If you don't already have a method of helping dough rise, what I did was pour some boiling water in a pot, put a cooling rack (or baking sheet) on top, and then set the covered bowl on top of that. Then I let it rise for about an hour and it worked great.**
Turn risen dough out on lightly floured board and knead again. Divide dough into two portions. Pat and stretch each portion into a sheet about 9 inches square. Sprinkle with mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up like jelly roll and place in greased loaf pans with seam side down. Cover and let rise again until doubled in bulk.
Bake in hot oven (425 degrees) 15 minutes, reduce heat to moderate (375 degrees) and bake 25 minutes longer.