Saturday, 3 November 2012

Pumpkin Sourdough

Hello, anyone who might still be out there! It's been a long time since last I updated this blog. I need to rebuild the discipline, and post all the recipes I've been trying out.

I now deliver 6 loaves of bread each Saturday morning to Bakehouse St Albans, a cafe in town. It's something of an ego boost, but the need (on my part) to have an interesting set of loaves each week has made me push my creativity. If I keep this blog properly, I will post the recipes. They may not be seasonal now, but I'll intersperse the older ones with new ones.

Let's see if I can keep that promise. Sometimes laziness and diffidence win out over chattiness.

First, my Jack O'Lantern Pumpkin Sourdough.

On display at Bakehouse St Albans

I wanted to make a Halloween bread, so of course there had to be pumpkin involved. It couldn't be a quick bread, since sweet bakes are the province of the Bakehouse, and besides, what I do these days is sourdough. Hurrah for signatures.

Pumpkins are not as prevalent in England as in the US, and usually are only sold for carving or display. There's no way to tell what variety you're getting, for instance. My first try used only pumpkin, and the flavour was a bit bland. I knew that I didn't want to steam or boil the pumpkin, so I baked it hoping to caramelise the sugars and reduce the liquid content a bit.

Only white flour was used: no competition for the pumpkin flavour.

Well, it seemed unable even to compete with the flour. So, think hard. Also, consult with someone with lots more experience: my Mom! She suggested adding another type of squash, perhaps butternut. Ah-hah! Loads of that on sale.

I also wondered what the actual taste is of pumpkin? Really, when we think of it, we're thinking of pies and quick breads and so forth. All the recipes I found for those use spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. I decided against cloves (don't know why, just did) and added the first two, plus a bit of honey. You could use treacle (molasses, in the States) but I wanted to save that for another day. It can overwhelm the other ingredients.

This is what I ended up with:

Pumpkin Sourdough Bread


- 200 grams Starter, 100% hydration
- 500 grams Flour, white bread
- 200 grams Pumpkin puree (part pumpkin, part other squash, to taste)
- 100 grams Cider
- 15 grams Salt
- 25 grams Honey
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg


1. Halve, deseed and bake two small pumpkins and butternut squashes at 180C for 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool and scrape the flesh and any liquid into a bowl. Although I didn't, you may want to blend this into a puree. Also, spread the seeds out on a tray, salt lightly and put the tray in the oven with the squash for 30 minutes.

2. Autolyse  -  Combine all ingredients except the salt and allow to sit, covered, for 30 minutes.

3. Knead   -  Knead the dough, adding the salt once it starts to come together. This is a nice, smooth dough, and will feel very responsive. Knead for ten or fifteen minutes, and put in an oiled bowl to prove.

Remove from the bowl every 50 minutes and stretch and fold the dough.

It's hard to say how long to prove the dough. My experience is that the rise is very slow, so it might take several hours.

4. After the dough has doubled in size, take it from the bowl. I formed two round loaves. Put the loaves in bannetons or rest them on an oiled and floured piece of parchment paper to rise. Flour the tops generously and cover with plastic. Again, allow to prove fully. Pressing a finger into the dough will eventually make a dimple that doesn't spring back. It may take longer than you think, and will depend on the vigour of your starter.

5. Preheat the oven to 240C. If the loaves are in bannetons, turn them out.

Slash the tops. I tried to create Jack O'Lantern faces.

Bake in the 240C oven for 5 minutes, spraying with water three times, then turn the heat down to 220C and bake for 35 more minutes, or until done.

I think I may not have allowed these to rise long enough. The pumpkin makes them very moist. I pressed a pumpkin seed into each "eye" before baking. Still, I was pleased with the results.

We had a coffee at the Bakehouse after delivering the breads. This was my wife's cappuccino:


1 comment:

  1. I will never share an American fascination with pumpkin(or turkey). Not only it is completely flavorless but also it smells awfully to me.
    I really like how your breads look like, so crusty.