Are you ready for Thanksgiving? I am. I’m ready for a couple of days off, time with family, and some great food. I love everything about Thanksgiving food, right down to the leftovers. If you ask me, the leftovers are even better than the big meal. The flavors have melded and grown and there seems to be added comfort in just being able to reheat everything after a busy few days of cooking and baking. For many, many Americans, the phrase “Thanksgiving leftovers” is pretty much synonymous with a big, huge turkey sandwich. If you’re one of these people, I’ve got a great way for you to take your beloved sandwich up a notch–pumpkin yeast bread. Yes. Pumpkin. Yeast. Bread.
It’s light and fluffy, like a great sandwich bread should be, but it’s sturdy and ever so slightly chewy, the way a bread that’s going to contain leftovers from a Thanksgiving feast should be. The pumpkin flavor is pronounced without being overpowering and the spices hang out subtly in the background. For all of these reasons, this bread is also completely wonderful simply toasted and spread with apple, pumpkin, or peanut butter. If you’ve got a house full of friends and family, I also think it would make a really stellar French toast. To be honest, I really can’t think of anything that it wouldn’t be perfect for. It’s just that good.
1/2 c. warm water (approximately 110° F)
1 1/2 TBSP instant yeast
2/3 c. warm milk or buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. pumpkin purée
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
dash ground cloves
6 1/2 c. bread flour (approximately)
1. Put the water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and sprinkle yeast on top. Add in milk, eggs, pumpkin, oil, brown sugar, and spices. Mix briefly to combine. Add 4 c. bread flour and mix until a sticky dough has formed.
2. Switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining flour until dough is smooth and elastic and only slightly sticky. (You may need a bit more than the 6 1/2 c. called for, but not much.)
3. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and turn once to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead a couple of times, then divide in half and press each piece into a rectangle that is 9 inches long and about 1 inch thick. With the long side facing you, roll the dough into a cylinder, pressing down on the dough to make sure it sticks to itself. Pinch the seam together, then place each roll, seam side down, into a well-oiled 9 x 5 loaf pan, making sure the dough touches each side of the loaf pan. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled, about 45 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375° F. Bake loaves until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the middle of the loaf reads 190° F, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool, in the pans, about 30 minutes. Turn the bread out from pans, let cool completely, then wrap tightly. Loaves will keep about 1 week on the counter or in the freezer, up to 1 month.
Yield: 2 loaves