Fall is absolutely my favorite time of the year! It gets pumpkin crazy around our home as the baking begins. Of course my very favorite pumpkins are all the glorious heirloom pumpkins. The many different shapes and colors of heirloom pumpkins are pure natural art from the earth.
My favorite pumpkin above all other pumpkins to bake with is the Jarrahdale. They have the richest and creamiest orange flesh with absolutely no strings inside. They have a mild, nutty, sweet flavor and perfect for pies.
The Jarrahdale is actually a winter squash, Cucurbita maxima, an Australian heirloom. They grow great in the garden, however we do have our fair share of squash borers in the south that can be quite hard to deal with. Last year I had the neighbors chickens visiting my garden and they were gracious enough to try to help me with the squash borers, but actually dug them up causing their demise. I didn't have any luck with pumpkins this year in Texas due to extremely hot temperatures and what seems to be an endless drought. But I shall never give up on growing my pumpkin patch each year, because I know how glorious they are when having a successful harvest.
To my shear delight the Jarrahdale has become popular at the supermarket. Everyone is so intrigued by my shopping cart stacked with a few of these blue beauties. I will confess that while they are in season I pick up several while they are in season each time I need to go grocery shopping. I always get asked what I plan to do with them. I'm sure my grin is from ear to ear when I tell them I'm gonna to bake with them. They always looked shocked and quite puzzled. Oh if they only knew what wondrous things can be made with them. I also puree them for the freezer for later use.
If you've never roasted a pumpkin before, I invite you to join me in my kitchen for a few tips. The process is quite easy and I find it a joy. You will want to make sure to scoop out those seeds for roasting as well. They are a great snack and the seeds are fabulous to use in all kinds of baked goods for added fun and crunchiness. But first we are going to make my favorite holiday bread. This bread is great for toast and especially good for sandwich making when you begin to have those left over ham and turkeys during the holiday season.
1/2 cup warm water
2/3 cup warm milk
2 tbsp organic sunflower oil
2 farm fresh eggs room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed fresh pumpkin
5 1/2 cup organic unbleached flour
1 cup organic wheat bran
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup organic plump golden raisins
2 tbsp flax seed plus extra for topping
3 tbsp raw organic sunflower seeds
In a small sauce pan, combine the water, milk, oil, brown sugar and raisins. Heat until nice and warm, but not hot. Set aside and allow raisins to soak. Stir to make sure sugar has dissolved.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, wheat bran, yeast, flax and sunflower seeds, salt and spices, Whisk together well.
Place dough hook on mixer with dry ingredients first. Add your small bowl of liquid ingredients and begin mixing on 2nd speed, add eggs and pumpkin and continue on 2nd speed until well combined. The dough for this bread is very sticky. It allows for the bread to be moist and fluffy. Oil a bowl and place dough and cover to let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.
On a well floured surface pour out dough and divide in half. Work out gas bubbles and roll into a good square and then roll up into a loaf to place in your pans. Brush the top with egg white and sprinkle on flax seeds. Makes two loaves. Cover and let rise about an hour. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes. You can tell if your bread is done when you turn it out of the pan and you tap on the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.