This yeast bread is such a yummy alternative to other pumpkin quick breads, you’re going to love it! Stuffed full of toasted walnuts, raisins and fresh cranberries, you could serve it topped with cream cheese for breakfast, or slathered with maple-thyme butter at dinner. The tang from the fresh cranberries is a little startling but delicious. The first time I made it I didn’t have fresh cranberries, so I reconstituted dried cranberries, drained them and tossed them in the dough. It made for a slightly sweeter bread. It’s good both ways, but if you’re not fond of the bite of fresh cranberries I suggest you opt for the dried ones.
This bread is a tease. You get it all warmed up and smelling wonderful and then it wants to take a break to get some beauty rest. So, if you want this tomorrow then you need to get started on it right now. You’ve got a few minutes, right?
In a large bowl, measure out 2/3 cups of bread flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Whisk until incorporated.
In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons tepid water and 2 teaspoons yeast. That’s going to take about 5 minutes to become creamy, so take that time to get together 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup pureed pumpkin,1 egg, ¾ cup toasted walnuts, 1 cup raisins, and 2/3 cup of cranberries.
When you’re all ready and everybody’s at room temperature, go ahead and cream the butter and sugar.
Add the pumpkin and the egg.
Drizzle in the yeasty mixture.
Slowly add the flour. (Unless you like a mushroom cloud in your kitchen. Then, by all means, dump it all in and mix on high!)
After all your flour is incorporated, switch to the dough hook, turn your mixer up to medium and let it knead for 10-15 minutes.
You’ll end up with a pretty, smooth and sticky dough.
Dump in the walnuts and raisins and attempt to mix them in. It’s kinda tough, they don’t want to cooperate. Don’t worry about that now, we’ll take care of it ourselves.
When they’re mixed add the cranberries and attempt to mix them in as well.
Of course you have a buttered bowl waiting, right?
Dump your dough and the bits and pieces into the bowl.
Try and fold the bits in, but don’t worry too much. The dough will be much stickier after it rests and you’ll be able to get them in then.
Cover and park in a warm corner for 2 hours.
See? It’s so much stickier. The bits will stick in now.
Form it into a ball and wrap well in saran wrap.
Rest it on a Bear in the Big Blue House plate if you have one. I guess you could use a regular plate if you don’t. If you must. Then park it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning you might find some kind of freaky animal head in your fridge. That is, if you didn’t wrap it up well enough, like I did.
Take it out and turn the head back into the buttered bowl. The dough will take about 3-4 hours to come to a cool room temperature. When it does, portion it out into 2 (or three if you’re using smaller pans) pieces. Shape them into rectangles, roll them up, pinch the ends to seal them and pop them into your loaf pans.
If you roll the dough up, you’ll get a pretty spiral to your finished dough. (Sorry I’m missing pictures here, I don’t know what to tell you. Must have accidentally deleted them.)
Cover the pans and let them rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden. They should also sound hollow when you thump the bottom of the loaf.
Let them rest in the pan for 5 minutes then let them hang out on a cooling rack.
Cut them up and slather the slices with creamy butter, cream cheese, fig and walnut preserves or maple-thyme butter. Deeeeeeelicious!
Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaves
Slightly adapted from Baking with Julia
2 2/3 to 3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tepid water (80 – 90 degrees)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz (1 cup) pureed pumpkin
1 egg, room temperature
¾ cup walnut pieces, toasted
1 cup raisins, golden or dark
2/3 cup cranberries (if frozen, thaw and pat dry) (Or reconstitute 2/3 cup of dried cranberries in hot water for 5 minutes then drain.)
Whisk 2 2/3 cup of flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in large bowl, set aside.
Pour water into small bowl, sprinkle in yeast and whisk to blend. Allow the yeast to rest until it’s creamy, about 5 minutes.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add the pumpkin and egg and beat until blended. Don’t be concerned if mixture looks curdled; it will come together when you add dry ingredients.
Set the mixer speed to low and add the yeast, then begin to add the dry ingredients, about ½ cup at a time. As soon as the mixture starts to form a dough that comes together, scrape the paddle clean and switch to the dough hook. If your dough does not come together, add a few more tablespoons of flour.
Mix and knead the dough on medium-low speed for 10-15 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl and the hook now and then. At the start, the mixture will look more like a batter than a dough, but as you continue to work, it will develop into a soft, very sticky dough that will just ball up on the hook.
With the machine on low, add the walnuts and raisins, mixing only until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the cranberries and mix as little as possible to avoid crushing them.
Scrape the dough into a lightly buttered large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature to rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
When the dough has doubled, fold it over on itself a couple of times to deflate it, wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
At least 6 hours before you want to begin baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Leave the dough, covered in its bowl, until it reaches at least 64 degrees. This will take as long as 3-4 hours, don’t rush it. Look for the dough to be slightly cool and just a little spongy.
Lightly butter 3 5 ¾ by 3 ¼ by 2 inch loaf pans. (I used two regular loaf pans.)
Working on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into thirds and pat each piece of dough into a 5 by 7 inch rectangle; keeping the short end toward you roll up the dough and seal the seam by pressing it with your fingertips. Seal the ends, then place each roll, seam side down, in a prepared pan.
Cover the pans lightly with a kitchen towel and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the dough has nearly doubled. It will rise to just about the rim of the pans. (Or not, if you’re using regular loaf pans.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves for about 35 minutes, or until deeply golden. Remove the pans to a cooling rack; after a 5 minute rest, turn the breads out of their pans and allow them to cool to room temperature on a rack.
Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this amazing compound butter. (it was devoured so quickly!) I got the recipe several years ago from a magazine. (Sorry, can’t remember which one!) It’s main purpose was to be massaged all over the turkey for Thanksgiving. I made extra for our rolls and we all loved it so much it got slathered on anything that sat still for too long! It was even good on the pumpkin pie! This stuff is like crack, fair warning!
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 sticks of butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
In a small saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Pour into a bowl, then stir in the butter and the thyme
Pour into ramekins and let chill in the fridge. (It’s not going to re-solidify completely, just a heads up.)