Slice of Americana

By Angela Denstad Stigeler

We’ve had no shortage of visions of America put before us as of late. At the time of this writing, it is still unknown which will prevail, but what can be depended upon is that, in a few short weeks, Americans will join together at family tables near and far, large and small, in thanksgiving of our blessings. Here’s a bread that brings it all together. It’s a veritable microcosm of a Thanksgiving meal; if you make a turkey sandwich on it, you almost don’t need anything else. It takes an overnight rise, but it’s well worth the time and it freezes well. It’s got a little something to please everyone. It’s a real slice of Americana just right for serving on America’s holiday.

 

Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaves

 

2 2/3 – 3 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ 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 ounces (1 cup) pureed cooked pumpkin, fresh or canned

1 large egg, room temperature

¾ cup walnut pieces, toasted

1 cup plump golden or dark raisins

2/3 cup cranberries

 

Whisk 2 2/3 cups of the flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl; set aside. Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl and let rest until creamy, about 5 minutes.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add the pumpkin and egg and beat until blended. Set the mixer to low and add the yeast, then the dry ingredients a little at a time. As soon as the dough starts to come together, switch to the dough hook and knead 10-15 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Add the walnuts and raisins until incorporated. Carefully knead in the cranberries by hand.

Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, up to two hours. Fold the dough over on itself a couple of times to deflate it, wrap the bowl tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator several hours before you want to bake the bread. Once the dough comes to a cool room temperature (64 degrees) lightly butter two small loaf pans. Divide the dough in half and pat each piece of dough into a 5×7 rectangle on a floured surface. Starting on a short side, roll up the dough and pinch the seam closed. Seal the ends of the dough and place in the prepared pans. Cover and allow to rise for up to two hours until doubled. Bake in the center of the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Let the breads cool in the pans abour 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely before serving.

 

Recipe adapted from Baking with Julia, by Julia Child

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