With Halloween baking being such a big deal and only growing in popularity every year, there always seems to be a new trend on the horizon and this year it’s this brilliantly clever pumpkin loaf that I’ve seen all over instagram. I have no idea where it originated but it’s actually such a clever little concept although I’d imagine that tying a loaf to create shapes is not a new bread-making phenomena. Most of the recipes I’ve seen have been for a sourdough pumpkin loaf like this beautiful one over at my good friend Karen’s blog Lavender and Lovage but I don’t have my sourdough starter any more as I sadly neglected it over the summer so I thought I’d try baking a non-sourdough version.
I’ve gone for a mix of flours because I feel that using just plain white wouldn’t give it the structure it needs to hold the shape so I’ve used some wholemeal and a little oat flour but you could use rye flour or barley flour, or just keep it to a wholemeal / plain mix. I’ve also included some pumpkin puree into the mix. You don’t have to include this but I think it adds a lovely seasonal twist and a delicious silkiness to the loaf. I’ve also thrown in some pumpkin seeds for good measure and extra crunch.
- 400g strong bread flour
- 100g wholemeal flour
- 100g oat flour
- 300ml Luke warm watr
- 100ml pumpkin puree
- 1 sachet (7g) fast action dried yeast
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
You will also need some string, extra oil for greasing, clingfilm and baking parchment. I’m also baking mine in my cast iron casserole dish with a lid. Any oven-proof dish with a lid will work.
I’m also using my smeg stand mixer with the dough hook to knead my loaf because of my lazy arm but this could easily be kneaded on an oiled board for 10 minutes.
Stir the pumpkin puree into the water until it is mixed well.
Place all the dry ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer, or into a large bowl and pour in the water / puree mix and bring together with a dough hook or your hand. Once it forms a rough dough, knead well for 8 mins.
Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm (or a plastic shower cap) and set aside for 20 mins. After 20 minutes, wet your hands and do a ‘stretch and fold’ on the dough 4 times, turning the bowl a quarter turn after each ‘stretch and fold’ – this technique is literally as described. With one hand hold the dough in the bowl and with the other hand grab the side of the dough and pull and stretch it as far as it will go, then turn the bowl by a quarter and repeat.
Cover with clingfilm and set aside for another 20 minutes, then repeat the ‘stretch and fold’ again. Repeat this process once more (so a total of 3 ‘stretch and fold’ sessions) and then cover and set aside for 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Now you need to prepare a little. Cut 4 long pieces of string and soak them in a little oil for 5 mins to ensure they’re fully coated. Lay out some baking parchment to larger than the size of your casserole dish and lay the 4 pieces of string in a star shape cross the paper. Set aside.
Lightly oil your work surface. Knock back the dough and lay it onto the oiled surface. Punch it out into a rough flat disk shape and then, thinking of the disk as a compass, grab the ‘north’ side and stretch and pull it over to the middle, then repeat with the east, west and south. You’re trying to form a rough ball shape whilst also creating tension as you stretch and pull it to the middle. Once you have a rough ball shape that feels tight, flip it over and lay the ugly folded side onto the centre of the string in the middle of the parchment.
Carefully lift the paper into the casserole dish, with the 8 strands of string overhanging the edges of the dish. Place the lid on and set aside for the bread to prove for at least 30 mins, whilst you pre-heat your oven to 220c.
After 30 mins, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and gently rub it in. Now tie the string into the centre of the dough ball, so that you have 8 equal sections. Slash the dough with a pretty chevron pattern and place the lid on the pot.
Bake for 25 mins with the lid on and 20 mins with the lid off. Set aside on a wire wrack to cool and then remove the string.
Eat and of course, enjoy!