Guy Fawkes! Bonfire night! Fireworks, freezing your nose off while eating a sausage on a bun covered in brown sauce and fried onions (the sausage, that is; not you) standing in the park, jostled by lots of people and waiting for the fireworks!
Didn't do that this year, but hey - it's still fun.
I thought that the spirit of the night required a bit of heat, a few surprises and some spice. As it happens, this bread isn't as hot as I thought, but I like it. If you want more fire, use at least twice as much pepper, or a hotter variety. Or both. Since the heat seems to be absorbed and buffered by the bread, you might even want to roll the diced chilli into the bread when you're forming it into loaves. I haven't tried that, but it should work.
- 350 grams Bread flour, white
- 200 grams Starter, 100%
- 150 grams Cornmeal
- 300 grams Pumpkin, baked and mashed
- 50 grams Treacle
- 1 tbsp chilli pepper, fresh and finely chopped
- 1 tsp Ginger, fresh and grated
- 15 grams salt
1. Prep - Preheat the oven to 180C. Halve the pumpkin(s) and remove the seeds. Put the pumpkin on one baking tray and the seeds on another, and lightly salt the seeds. Bake the pumpkin for an hour, or until soft, and the seeds for half an hour.
The seeds are for snacking.
When the pumpkin is soft, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. Scrape the flesh into a container and squeeze as much juice as you can from the skins, then discard the skin. Mash the flesh, or put it in a blender.
2. Hydration - Combine all the ingredients except the salt and allow to hydrate for half an hour.
3. Knead - Knead until smooth and add the salt. Knead the salt into the dough. Once it is smooth and bouncy, put it in a lightly oiled bowl to rise.
4. The pumpkin makes the dough much slower to prove. After about an hour, I took it out of the bowl and gave it a short knead, pushing any bubbles down. Then I formed it into a ball and returned it to the bowl.
5. Form into loaves - After about three hours (really!) I felt the dough had risen enough. I turned it out and started to form it into loaves.
For the large bake, I actually made two kinds of loaves. All my breads for the larger bakes use loaf sizes of 450 grams. Half the loaves were freeform.
The basic shaping for all my bread goes like this:
Press the portion of dough into a rectangle. Roll it from the top down, stretching just a bit to get some tension into the dough. When you have a sort of jellyroll shape, turn it 90 degrees, flatten it out and roll it up again. The second flattening will be more difficult - don't force it too much. You'll end up with a thick roll, nearly a ball. Complete this by forming it into a round ball, with the seams on the bottom. One way of creating this round shape is to make your hand into a cup shape. With the dough cupped in that hand, roll it around the counter a few times. It will tighten the surface and move the open seams to the bottom of the ball.
Press those together and then roll it back and forth a both so you have an elongated shape. (Next time I do this, I'll try to take photos.) Now you can either out that onto an oiled and floured tray, or a floured non-stick baking sheet or a floured peel. You can also put them into oiled and floured loaf tins.
Cover with a dusting of flour and a tea towel. I have some plastic wrap I use over and over, or you can use a plastic bag. You want to prevent the surface from drying out.
6. Preheat the oven to 240C, with a baking stone in it. If you don't have a baking stone (I don't; they all broke) put a heavy tray in.
Allow the loaves to rise again, until they are nearly doubled. This took almost an hour and a half for me.
7. Bake - Score the loaves. I tried to make firework shapes.
Put the loaves in the oven and use a mister to spray them. Turn the heat down to 220C and set the timer for 35 minutes.
Spray three times in the first ten minutes, then leave them.
Test after 35 minutes to see if they are done. They should feel lighter and when you tap the bottom of the loaf it should sound hollow, like a drum. If they are done, take them out and cool on a rack. If not, give them another 5 minutes and try again.
Toasting brings out some of the heat of the chilli. This bread goes very well with ginger marmalade.