This treat is a trick to the eyes! Beautiful bread boules masked as seasonal pumpkins offer a tasty and moist blend of pumpkin, molasses, and whole-grain goodness in a hearty yet delicate crumb. Break bread with your guests for any fall feast. Delicious as an accompaniment to harvest soups and stews.
For the Raisin Purée:
1 heaping cup raisins
3 cups boiling water
For the Grain Soaking:
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1¾ cups (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
12 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup molasses
½ cup light corn syrup
2 cups buttermilk
For the Dough:
3½ tablespoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
¾ cup warm water
5 cups dark rye flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons salt
9 to 10 cups all-purpose flour
To Make the Raisin Purée:
In a blender or food processor, purée the raisins with the boiling water until well-blended. Pour the raisin purée into a large mixing bowl.
To Soak the Grain:
In the same large mixing bowl as the raisin purée, stir in the rolled oats and brown sugar until blended. Fold in the pumpkin purée, melted butter, molasses, light corn syrup, and buttermilk. Set the bowl aside to allow the mixture soak for at least 20 minutes.
To Make the Dough:
While the grain soaks, place the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small mixing bowl. Proof the yeast for about 5 minutes, or until softened and foamy. Gently fold the proofed yeast mixture into the large bowl of soaked grains. Stir gently to combine. Incorporate the dark rye flour, the whole wheat flour, and the salt. Stir to form a thick paste. Add 6 cups of the all-purpose flour. Mix until the dough holds together and begins to form a ball.
Gather the dough onto a generously floured surface and gradually knead in 3 to 4 additional cups flour until the dough is firm yet supple, losing its stickiness but still moist.
Bring the kneaded dough into a ball shape and place it seam-side down in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place an empty baking tray on the bottom rack of the oven.
Turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into portions of equal or varying sizes, according to your desired size for your pumpkin-shaped loaf. Form each portion of dough into a boule, pulling the seam underneath for a smooth topside. Set the boules on a parchment-lined baking tray.
Using a large strand of butcher’s twine, wrap each boule of dough three times at spaced intervals, pulling the string taut and cutting into the dough to create 6 quadrants. Tie the strings at the top in a knot or bow. Insert a non-toxic wooden stem (I used grapevine wood). Cover loosely and allow the dough to rest and expand for about 30 minutes.
If you desire to color the pumpkins, use gel food coloring combined with a little water for a watercolor paint consistency. Using a pastry or a new soft-bristle paintbrush, paint the food coloring onto the pumpkin segments.
Once the boules have fully proofed, place the tray in the oven. Quickly, toss a handful of ice cubes onto the preheated tray on the bottom rack. Shut the door immediately to trap the steam. Bake for 25 minutes at 450°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F.
For the small pumpkin loaf, bake an additional 5 minutes. For the medium pumpkin loaf, bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes. For a large pumpkin loaf, bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes.
On all loaves, be sure to test that the internal temperature should read 190°F.
Remove the baked bread from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Snip and remove all strings before serving.
Recipe Created and Stylized by R. Shannon Mock
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