This bread is not only visually appealing for children but it also has a lovely, soft brioche-style texture with virtually no crust.   I adore pumkin and squashes but nearly lose a finger every time I try to remove the skin so I have taken to cutting them into wedges or just in half and baking before doing anything else with them…much less stressful.

The dough is very soft at the kneading stage so it is easiest to knead it with a dough hook on a food processor or using the dough setting on a bread machine.  It is possible to knead it by hand in a bowl or ‘air kneading’ but, be warned, it will be messy!

I bought special pumpkin baking pans for this bread but you can use a cupcake tin for rolls and, once chilled, the dough is robust enough to make a free-form loaf.

Don’t be put off by starting the recipe two days before baking – these initial steps only take a few minutes.

 

Ingredients

White Bread Flour – 500g

Water – 100ml

Yeast – 1 tsp

Eggs (medium) – 2

Butter – 50g

Milk – 90ml

Red Onion (medium) – 1/3-1/2, finely chopped

Sage Leaves – 3 large, finely chopped

Pumpkin, seasoned with salt and pepper – 250g (approximately half a medium pumpkin)

Salt – 1tsp – 1.5tsp (depending on taste)

Poppy Seeds for sprinkling (optional)

Extra butter and olive oil for greasing and an egg for glazing.

Method

Two days before you are planning to bake:

Mix 100g flour with the water and yeast.  Cover and leave for 24 hours.

Cut the pumpkin in half, rub with a little olive oil and season and bake at 200C for 40 minutes Ideally while cooking something else such as Potato Wedges with Rosemary).  Allow to cool.  The remaining half can be used for something else such as Pumpkin and Carrot Soup.

The day before baking:

Put the fermented water, flour and yeast mixture into the food processor along with the remaining flour, butter, milk, pumpkin, eggs, sage, onion, salt and knead for about 10 minutes.

Put in a bowl and cover (with a plate or lightly oiled cling film).  Allow to rise at room temperature for about an hour and then put in the fridge overnight.

On the day of baking:

If you are making faces or patterns on your pumpkins use a paintbrush to apply soft butter to the areas that you want the poppy seeds to stick.  Sprinkle the poppy seeds and then shake off the excess.  Use butter (or better still, an olive oil spray) to grease the remaining areas.  Shape the dough, rise, glaze with the egg and bake (see times and temperatures below).  This quantity of dough will make (approximately):

2 medium loaves (rising time an hour and a half, bake at 210C (fan) for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 190C and bake for a further 20 minutes)

or

24 medium rolls (rising time one hour, bake at 210C (fan) for 13-15 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 190C halfway through the cooking time if the rolls are becoming quite dark)

or

36 mini rolls (rising time one hour, bake at 210C (fan) for 10 – 12 minutes.

or a combination of the above (e.g. a loaf and 18 mini rolls in which case you will need to stagger rising or baking).

Serve with butter or cream cheese and Pumpkin and Carrot Soup.

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