Fall is my absolute favorite time of year - time to dust off those hearty comfort food recipes that have been lying neglected since the thermometer crossed that 50 degree line back in the spring. Time to break out the three B's: boots, braises, and (most importantly) BREAD.
While shuttling loaves in and out of blazing oven can obviously be done year round, bread baking is a lot more fun (and a lot less sweaty) in the cool, crisp air of autumn. I love to incorporate seasonal produce into my baked goods and for the month of October there's no question which end of the garden I'm headed to - the pumpkin patch.
While "pumpkin spice" seems to have become the official flavor of fall, the meaty flesh of these beautiful orange berries rarely appears outside of the ubiquitous Thanksgiving pie and the occasional muffin. There, the pumpkin's delicate earthy sweetness is overwhelmed with added sugar, buried under hot spices, and drowned out by dairy. I like to take my pumpkin down a more savory road - complementing its flavor with the toasty nuttiness of whole wheat flour and the sweet woodiness of fresh thyme, and enhancing its natural sweetness with just a touch of honey. This beautiful, golden bread is perfect toasted with butter, or dipped in the juices of your favorite roast. I mixed it by hand because I enjoy it, but a stand mixer could do the job also.
Golden Pumpkin Wheat Bread
1 cup water
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
3 Tablespoon honey
2 cup whole wheat flour
2 cup bread flour
1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
3 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon milk
Combine water and pumpkin puree in a small sauce pan and heat gently until lukewarm (~110 F). Add the yeast and honey and allow to sit until foamy.
Add both flours, wheat germ, and butter and mix gently until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated but still a bit shaggy.
Add the salt and continue to mix until the dough comes together completely.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the is smooth and elastic.
Place dough and a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size.
Punch down dough and form into your desired shape. It can be baked in a loaf pan, as individual dinner rolls, or (if you're feeling fancy like I was) a pretty braid.
Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise a second time until almost doubled. Mix egg and milk together and brush the entire surface of the loaf and bake at 350 until the loaf is a deep golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. This will prevent the bottom crust from steaming and becoming soggy.
Slice, slather with butter, and enjoy!
Want to learn more bread-making techniques? The Chopping Block has lots of bread making classes are coming up: