Dried Cranberry and Seed Pumpkin Loaves

As I noted a few weeks ago, all I want to do in my kitchen, still searingly bright with sunlight from Southern California’s misguided attempts at “fall,” is bake. Luckily, one of the few cool weekend days we’ve had since then corresponded with a break in grading, and I had a chance to see if my dough skills are still in there somewhere.

Inspiration for these pretty, autumnal loaves came from a seasonal box of those lovely raincoat crisp crackers Trader Joe’s puts out, these a bright, turmeric-esque orange from pumpkin and flavored with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds. I decided to see if I could translate them into a bread. The ingredient list on the box of crackers served as my starting point, but for quantities I returned to these loaves from last year, replacing the rye flour with whole wheat, dolling them up with the dried cranberries, a few additional seeds, and some fresh herbs, and running some of the seeds through the dough itself rather than reserving them all for the top. As before, though, the secret is cooking down the pumpkin puree first to dry it out. It adds a little time to the whole endeavor, but makes the dough much more manageable and more aggressive in pumpkin flavor.

The dough here is soft and elastic and slightly sticky, even after its first rise, and the hardest part of the process is convincing yourself not to use too much flour on your board when you shape them, because the dustier with flour they are, the harder it will be to get seeds to adhere to their surface.Internet forums abound with how to get seeds to stick to the outside of a shaped dough-ball; the easiest and most effective method seems to be dampening the surface of the dough slightly by spraying or brushing with water, then gently pressing it into the mixture of seeds and, in this case, oats. It doesn’t guarantee they won’t tumble off while you’re carving thick slices, but at that point, you at least have the option of spreading the slice generously with cream cheese* and sprinkling the rebels back on, where they are sure to adhere.

As for flavor, these delightfully toe the line between sweet and savory. Pumpkin is so commonly paired with sweet flavors, and the dried cranberries and nutmeg seem to push it in that direction, but the woodsy herb flavor (the crackers use rosemary, which I think I’d prefer, but in the moment I only had sage) and the nudge of heat from the black pepper keep it from feeling dessert-like. I’m not sure you would want to use this for sandwiches, but I could imagine it being a starchy side for a roast chicken or a big dinner salad. I find, though, as with many freshly baked loaves, I want it most in mid-afternoon, when it is still just warm from the oven, and I am slightly peckish and starting to dream about dinner.

*goat cheese is nice too, and though I suppose you could make it into frozen slices a la this peanut butter “hack” the internet responded to with hilarity a few weeks ago to prevent tearing your bread, you could also just let the goat cheese come to room temperature, at which point it smears pretty easily across the tender slice.

Dried Cranberry and Seed Pumpkin Loaves
Makes 2 round loaves 7-8 inches in diameter
4 – 4 ½ hours
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1½ cups warm milk
pinch granulated sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons melted butter
1¼ cups rolled oats, divided
1½ cups whole wheat flour
2-3 cups bread flour
1 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup sunflower seeds, divided
¼ cup flax seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary or sage
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

 

  • In a small skillet, cook the pumpkin puree over high or medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the color has deepened and the puree has dried and has a texture something like a thick frosting. Set aside to cool.
  • While the pumpkin comes to room temperature, add the pinch of sugar to the warm milk, then stir in the yeast and let it sit to burble for 5-10 minutes, until it is bubbly and smells like bread.
  • Pour the yeast and milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 1 cup of the oats, all of the whole wheat flour, the molasses, the melted butter, and the cooled pumpkin. Stir with the paddle attachment to combine.
  • Now add 1½ cups of the bread ½ cup at a time, paddling in between, until a soft, sticky dough is formed. Dump in the rosemary or sage, the nutmeg, the pepper, the salt, the dried cranberries, ½ cup of the sunflower seeds, and all of the ¼ cup flax seeds, and paddle again just until integrated.
  • Switch to the dough hook and knead at medium speed until it comes together into an elastic but slightly sticky dough, 8-10 minutes. If it doesn’t seem to be coming together, continue adding the bread flour ½ cup at a time as needed, kneading a minute or two in between each addition. You may not need all of the bread flour.
  • Cover the bowl of kneaded dough with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise until it has doubled, 60-90 minutes. While this is happening, combine the remaining ¼ cup rolled oats, ¼ cup sunflower seeds, and the ½ cup pumpkin seeds in a large, shallow bowl.
  • After it has risen, punch down the dough by gently depressing your fist into the center of it. Pour and scoop it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured board and divide in half using a dough scraper. One at a time, shape each half into a round by holding the dough ball in your hands and stretching the top taut, tucking the excess underneath. Each time you stretch and tuck, turn the dough a quarter turn or so. You can also do this while the dough is resting on your board, turning it and tucking the excess, which will form something that looks like a balloon tie or a belly button underneath. Check out this series of photos from the kitchn for helpful illustrations.
  • When you have a round loaf that is reasonably taut across its domed top, spray or lightly brush it with water, then gently press all sides of it into the mixture of oats and seeds you’ve prepared. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  • Gently place the seeded loaves on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, lightly cover them with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and set them aside to rise again for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
  • After 45 minutes, with the loaves swollen, place them carefully in the oven and bake at 375F for 35-45 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 180-200F.

Five-Seed Loaves

2015 Blog September-0394Growing up, my sister and I ate a lot of reasonably healthy food. Mom wasn’t the “crunchy granola type,” especially not by the time my sister showed up, but her waffle recipe involved wheat germ, and my lunchtime sandwich bread always had a measure of whole wheat in it. When I got a little older, it seemed like the more seeds and nuts a loaf contained, the more likely my mom was to buy it. Nine grains? Hearty nuts and seeds? R. and I wouldn’t always eat it, but it was probably in our freezer.

2015 Blog September-0359Thus I felt a certain fondness when I started to consider this month’s Twelve Loaves assignment of seed breads. I knew I wanted multiple seeds, and I knew I wanted them on the inside and outside of my loaves. A bit of internet research led me to Suzanne’s lovely little site Flour Arrangements, and even if she hadn’t had a great seeded loaf recipe to work with and adapt, I would have been enticed by her blog’s clever title (not the mention how many great sounding loaves she’s made – I can’t wait to adapt her multigrain pumpkinseed loaf as the weather cools – I’m thinking of adding some pumpkin puree and rye flour, and maybe some oatmeal).

2015 Blog September-03642015 Blog September-0366I kept her recipe mostly the same, only replacing oil with butter and adding a few additional seeds for a total of five: sesame, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, and flax.

2015 Blog September-03672015 Blog September-0369I’ve been baking mainly sourdough loaves lately, trying different ratios of starter and flour, comparing notes with S. about various stirring or folding techniques instead of kneading the dough, tipping in just enough whole wheat flour to make a nutty loaf that isn’t too dense, and getting used to long, slow rise times and overnight rests in the refrigerator to develop a tangier sour flavor. Imagine my delight, then, when my bowl of dough, bolstered by its full tablespoon(!) of yeast, agreeably puffed enough to press against its plastic wrap lid in a little over an hour. Not only that, but after carefully pressing and rolling the lovely tight loaves I’d formed through a jumble of seeds, they swelled again in their pans to triumphant heights. Sourdough is delicious and tends to be my go-to for everyday toast, but it is an exercise in patience and in long-term benefits. These loaves, though they do require two rises, expand so eagerly it feels like a reward for a job well done.

2015 Blog September-0376And really, these are a reward. Yes, the seeds you’ve so carefully pressed into the surface of the dough go everywhere – when you turn the baked loaves out of the pans, when you slice into them, when you bag and store them – but those that stay affixed offer a really nice set of flavors and textures. The heat and time in the oven toasts and crisps them lightly, and the flax seeds in particular take on a roasted taste and a slippery crunch I find incredibly appealing. And that’s just the surface. Inside, the crumb is tender and light and barely sweet, as soft as a commercially made pre-sliced loaf, but with the hearty, toasty, wholesome feel and flavor that comes with homemade.

2015 Blog September-0384You could certainly trade out the seeds here if you wanted – caraway would give a stronger anise-y feel, tiny nigella or black onion seeds would make for a more savory flavor, maybe good for meat or tomato based sandwiches. But I am devoted to sweet breakfast toast, and this bread, toasted or not, welcomes salted butter and cinnamon sugar so nicely I must admit I never explored beyond that combination.

2015 Blog September-0390

Five-Seed Loaves
Adapted from Seeded Wheat Bread on Flour Arrangements
Makes 2 9×5 inch loaves
4-5 hours, approximately (including rising/resting time)
¾ cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
pinch white sugar
1 ½ cups warm milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
5 tablespoons poppy seeds, divided
5 tablespoons sesame seeds, divided
3 tablespoons very soft or melted butter
¼ cup molasses
1 tablespoon salt
3-4 cups bread flour
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons flax seeds

 

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a large bowl if you aren’t using a mixer, combine the warm water with the yeast and the pinch of sugar. Stir and let it sit for about 10 minutes until the mixture smells bread-like and the yeast has foamed up a bit.
  • Add the milk, whole wheat flour, butter, molasses, and salt to the yeast mixture. Add two tablespoons each of the poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Mix with the paddle attachment or with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  • With the mixer running on low speed, add the bread flour ½ cup at a time until you have a soft dough that pulls and tears away from the sides of the bowl. I needed all 4 cups of the flour, as it was a bit humid in my kitchen – you might need less depending on the day.
  • If you are using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook. If you are mixing by wooden spoon, now is the time to turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead on medium speed for about 5 minutes if you are working by machine, or about 7-8 minutes by hand, to form a smooth and elastic but still sticky dough. It will still droop and pull when you stop kneading, not sit firmly in a cohesive ball. That’s okay. This ensures a more tender loaf.
  • Lightly grease the sides of a large bowl (I just use the stand mixer bowl; you don’t even have to clean it out) and position your dough in the middle of it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled – 1½-2 hours, depending on how warm your house is.
  • As the rising period nears its end, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons poppy seeds, 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, and the sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds on a baking tray. Butter or grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans and set aside.
  • Punch down the risen dough to release trapped gas by gently depressing your fist into its center, then turn it out onto a very lightly floured board (too much flour and the seeds won’t stick). Divide the dough in equal halves, shape into tight loaves and roll each one in seeds, turning to coat the ends, or just pushing a palmful of seeds against the ends of the loaves.
  • Set the seed-coated loaves gently in the prepared loaf pans, pat remaining seeds on top and drizzle down into the corners. Drape lightly with plastic wrap and let rise again for about 45 minutes, until doubled once more. They swell beautifully.
  • About twenty minutes before the rising period ends, preheat your oven to 375F. When the loaves are fully risen, remove the plastic wrap and place them gently into the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes. To test for doneness, either use a digital thermometer and check for a temperature between 180-200F, or thump the bottom lightly for a hollow sound.
  • Cool loaves in pans at least 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely before slicing. At all manipulation, seeds will scatter everywhere, but the flavor and texture are worth the mess.

 

Check out what our other awesome Twelve Loaves bakers made this month, below:

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and runs smoothly with the help of Heather of girlichef, and the rest of our fabulous bakers.

Our host this month is Lora from Cake Duchess and our theme is Seeds. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month’s selection of #TwelveLoaves Malt Breads!

For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month’s selection of #TwelveLoaves Malt Breads!

If you’d like to bake along with us this month, share your Seed Bread using the hashtag #TwelveLoaves!