Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pan de Calabaza- Sephardic Pumpkin Bread

What a day. Today I went to the doctor from some pre-operation testing. That's right; the moment that I've been dreading since my hospitalization in Israel is fast approaching. Surgery(gag) is scheduled for next Friday. Unfortunately though, I've been also suffering from this crazy headache that won't leave me alone. I can't properly treat it though because of the impending surgery. Great. That didn't stop me from baking. On the contrary, it made me feel better, at least psychologically, which baking always does for me. And of course, when I need to relax, it's gotta be bread. I don't know.. something about the kneading that just relaxes me and releases stress. I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel this way. Anyway, the bread I bring to you today is Pan de Calabaza, or Sephardic Pumpkin Bread from, that's right, Maggie Glezer's A Blessing of Bread. This is the type of recipe that intrigues me but think that I'll never get around to making. Well, at the end of the summer, before I returned to the city from upstate New York, my mom and I stopped at Wal Mart and saw these adorable little pumpkins on sale. My mother picked one up for herself, intending to make an orange soup. I picked one up with all sorts of baking ideas floating through my head. Funnily enough, I hadn't gotten around to doing anything with it until yesterday. Which isn't too bad, really, because it's kinda perfect to welcome fall. On a whim, I decided to roast it, which was the easiest thing ever, and mash it myself instead of using the highly processed, canned variety. I assembled the dough quite easily today despite my throbbing head. I didn't have cardamom or ginger so instead substituted freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon. The nutmeg turned out to be the dominant flavor, not a bad thing, but next time I'd reduce the nutmeg by a grate or two and add more cinnamon. Needless to say, the small amount of pumpkin did not add much but some lovely yellow color and moisture. It gave the finished bread soft and tender texture. Perfect with jelly for tomorrow's breakfast. The rising times were a little long but I took the opportunity to rest during those periods. Also, I should have made one large loaf instead of two loaves, because they turned out to be smaller and not exactly sandwich size. Oh well, you live and learn. This bread is still highly munchable. Anyway, head on over to Yeastpotting... you know what awaits you there!

Pan de Calabaza
adapted from Maggie Glezer's A Blessing of Bread

1/2 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2-3/4 ground cinnamon, or to your taste
few grates fresh nutmeg (this stuff is strong!)
about 3 3/4 cups bread flour
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, plus one for glazing

Place the yeast, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a large bowl.
Add 2/3 of a cup of flour..

...and stir to combine.
Add the water,
and blend. Allow this slurry to ferment until puffy, around ten to twenty minutes. Honestly, I had no patience to wait, so I just continued with the directions. No harm done.

Add the oil, egg, pumpkin, sugar, and salt.

Blend well.
Add the remaining flour all at once.
Once the dough has formed a rather shaggy mess, turn it out onto your work surface.
Knead until smooth. This shouldn't take too long. The dough should be firm and easily kneadable. Adjust the consistency as needed.
Place the dough into a grease bowl; turn to coat.

Allow to rise until doubled.

Shape as desired. Using poor judgement, I opted for two loaves. They are resting in non stick loaf pans.
Allow to rise until double. Brush well with beaten egg.

Bake until golden brown and your kitchen smells divine. Slice and enjoy!

1 comment:

Susan said...

What a gorgeous golden bread -- that's my kind of way to relax and cure a headache! Heal fast.