Bread terrifies me.
And bread requires patience. I have no patience.
But when I try to play nice and give it a shot, most of the time I’m utterly let downed. Even when I follow the recipe to the exact T, it always comes out dry and un-fluffy to the point I’m done trying to bake breads. I just don’t have the hands, and the trained hand movements for boulangerie, even if I was trained in the land of boulangerie. My fingers prefer intricate and detailed work. I only had 5 bread lessons in school, hardly enough to teach me well. It was fun, but I reckon I need more training on that because I don’t know the what to look out for in a good bread. Through my lessons I know that bread isn’t all that simple. The temperature of the water and even the flour all plays a part. So to make a good bread, (which is of course what I want to be able to do before I hand over a recipe to you folks) to me, it’s bloody hard.
This is more like a milk bread loaf. The type of doughs in the same category as cinnamon rolls. They’re not really breads like sourdoughs and rye and baguettes. But for tea, why not? People are growing more fond of sweet soft breads these days. Besides, who can resist spices in soft fluffy buns?
I charged at this recipe like a bull. I didn’t give myself one second to be intimidated and guess what, it worked. To my surprise this recipe was spot-on good. It was moist and soft and the spices came through beautifully. Subtle notes of pumpkin perfect for the upcoming fall. According to my experience with breads and some useful hints from my chefs I was under, I changed up the kneading time of the adapted recipe to achieve the texture I got and I hope it does for you too.
Pumpkin Spiced Pull-Apart Bread:
(adapted from Willowbird Baking)
For the dough:
milk – 1/2 cup
pumpkin puree -3/4 cup
caster sugar – 1/4 cup
unsalted butter – 2 tablespoons
salt – 1 teaspoon
active dry yeast – 2 1/4 teaspoons
flour T65 – 2 1/2 cups
For the filling:
sugar – 1 cup
ground cinnamon – 2 teaspoons
ground nutmeg – 1/2 teaspoon
melted butter – 2 tablespoons
For the glaze:
butter – 2 tablespoons
brown sugar – 1/8 cup
milk – 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons
icing sugar – 1/2 cup
rum – 1/4 teaspoon
To make the dough:
Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside.
In a saucepan, brown the 2 tablespoons of butter. Let it bubble and foam and when you see it start to brown, stir it so that it browns evenly. When it’s the color of dark honey, remove it from the heat and set aside to cool.
In the same saucepan, warm the milk until it’s slightly under boiling point. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl with the butter. Let these cool until they’re about 40C.
Stir the sugar and yeast into the milk/butter mixture and let it sit for about 10 minutes to proof (it should foam). Stir in pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup flour and fit a dough hook to your standing mixer. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. When the dough is combined, knead on low speed with a dough hook for 6 minutes and then increase the speed to medium high and knead for an additional 4 minutes till it’s and elastic and does not stick too much to your fingers.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour until it doubles in size (After it rises, you can put it in the fridge overnight to use it in the morning, but let it sit out for half an hour before rolling if you do.)
For the filling:
Whisk the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Toward the end of the rising time, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for the filling in the saucepan over medium-high heat and brown as directed above. Set aside to cool.
Shaping and baking the dough:
Lightly flour the dough and punch down onto the dough to deflate it. Let it sit to relax for 5 minutes. Flour a large work surface and turn your rested dough out onto it. Roll it out to a 20 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing.
Spread the browned butter over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top, patting it down to ensure it mostly sticks. (You do not have to use all the sugar mixture)
With the long edge of the rectangle toward you, cut it into 6 strips (do this by cutting the rectangle in half, then cutting each half into equal thirds). Stack these strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 6 even portions (again, cut it in half, and then cut the halves into equal thirds). Place these portions one at a time into your greased loaf pan, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in. Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 30-45 minutes to double in size.
While dough rises, preheat oven to 180C. When it’s risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark golden brown on top. Cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack in the loaf pan before unmolding.
For the glaze:
In your saucepan, bring the butter, milk, and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove it from heat, add the powdered sugar and rum, and whisk it to a smooth consistency.
Use a palette knife to loosen all sides of the bread from the loaf pan and gently turn it out onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip it to turn it right side up. Drizzle glaze over top. Serve each piece slightly warm with a drizzle of glaze.
// Just a guide when you’re rolling the dough //
(very unglamorous blue countertops…)