12 Days of Cooking: Day 4 - Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread

This was the first time I was making bread without the help of my bread machine, so I will admit, I was a little nervous. It worked out great though! Instead of using a bread tin like the recipe called for, I used one of our pizza stones, and the bread came out with such a great crust on it - nice, flaky, crispy crust (now I'm wishing the bread wasn't all gone so I could eat some right now!)

It's not the prettiest loaf in the world, but that's okay! I could have done with some more pumpkin flavor, so next time I make it, I think I'll add a little more pumpkin than the recipe calls for. The recipe came from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, a wedding gift from our dear friend Ashley, who always gives me cooking inspiration!

1 pie pumpkin (or can of pumpkin puree - I opted to use a real pumpkin and it was fun!)
2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 tablespoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rye flour
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
neutral tasting oil for greasing the pan

(Skip this step if you use canned pumpkin) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Split the pumpkin in half starting at the stem and place cut side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Pumpkin should be very soft all the way through. Let cool & scoop out seeds. Scoop out the roasted flesh of the pumpkin and mash it with a fork or puree in the food processor. Set aside 1 cup for the dough and use the rest for something else pumpkin-y (i saved mine for pumpkin biscuits and will be making them tonight!)

Mix the yeast and salt with the water, melted butter and honey in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded food container (not airtight).

Mix in the oatmeal, pumpkin and flowers without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor or a heavy-duty stand mixer. If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour (I didn't use a machine and had no problem getting everything together to make a dough. It takes a little longer, but when you don't have a machine to use, your hands are the best machine!).

Cover and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, approx. 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 9 days (The amount of dough this recipe makes can make up to 3 loaves of bread, but I recommend using it all fresh. I made it into two loaves and the first was significantly better tasting than the second, which I baked 2 days later).

On baking day, lightly grease a 9x5x3 inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound piece (cantaloupe sized). Dust with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go (if you do what I did and take the pizza stone route, you can make a bigger loaf).

Place the dough in the prepared pan (or stone!) and allow to rest and rise for 2 hours, or 40 minutes if you're using fresh dough.

20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with an empty broiler tray for water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the over. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the over door. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

Definitely recommend this recipe - the bread was just delicious! And if you're like Jake and me, you'll have a hard time waiting until the bread is cooled off to eat - I mean, who doesn't love fresh, warm, soft bread right out of the oven?

And for all you in warmer places than myself, we've had terrible wind around here making the 19 degree temperatures feel like -1 and -2, so I've been making myself at home, well, at home! Although Jake convinced me to go out and take a walk the other night - it was beautiful!

Hope you're all staying warm! And can you believe Christmas is only 11 days away???


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