I missed the opportunity to bake Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaves at the beginning of October. At the time, I was in the LA area without a stand mixer and fresh cranberries were not yet in the grocery stores. Knowing we had a make up baking day at the end of the month, I resolved to make these pumpkin loaves then. Rebecca of This Bountiful Backyard hosted this recipe on the first week of October. Those interested in the recipe can find it in her post here, or in the pages of Baking With Julia. The efforts of orther TWD participants can be found here.
The recipe for Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaves comes courtesy of Steve Sullivan, founder of the famed Acme Bakery in Berkeley, California. Other pumpkin breads I’ve encountered are quick breads — more like a muffin or banana bread. Steve’s pumpkin loaf relies on yeast to achieve its rise and texture; it is most certainly not a “quick” bread. Requiring extensive kneading time and an overnight nap in the fridge, the result is light and airy, resembling brioche, only without as much butter.
The dough is mixed in two stages. First wet ingredients are combined with a paddle attachment. Dry ingredients are then slowly added until the mixture begins to form a soft batter. The paddle is then swapped out for a dough hook. I switched to the hook before adding all the flour; it makes cleaning all the precious pumpkin batter from the paddle much easier. As with brioche, the dough is kneaded extensively, in this case 10-15 minutes. Fruit and nuts are then added to the dough. Fresh cranberries are incoporated last and mixed only slightly so as not to pop too many of them. In the written recipe, Dorie embraces a bit of zen should a few errant cranberries stain the dough.
The dough gets one rise at room temperature for around 2 hours, followed by the aforementioned overnight nap in the refrigerator. After coming up to cool room temperature, the dough is flattened into sheets and then rolled up and placed in butter loaf pans. After a third rise, the bread baked for a little over 30 minutes, though I adjusted the time upwards since I made a single loaf roughly 11″ x 4″ x 6″
The finished bread does not have a strong pumpkin flavor. Roasted fresh pumpkin would probably yield a more pronounced flavor. Still, the pumpkin and butter help create a wonderfully textured loaf. The next morning this bread made for fantastic french toast. Additionally, both the consistency of the dough and texture of the finished bread reminds of cinnamon rolls. I was not alone in this thought, as baker Katrina used this dough to create Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls.