Friday, November 16, 2012

Fermented Friday: Pumpkin Wild Rice Bread with Rosemary and Dried Cherries

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation.

This pumpkin yeast bread is the perfect middle ground. Soft and tender yet sturdy and hearty, it has just the right amount of chew.  Wild rice sneaks in to add body and texture.  But don't be wary, the rice bakes in enough that you can't really tell it's rice while you're eating it.  Pumpkin helps make the loaf tender without using loads of butter (like the potato in these rolls).

A sweet loaf with a hint of savory makes this bread versatile.  Sweet cherries blend with subtle notes of rosemary while a delicate pumpkin flavor lingers in the background.  It's perfect on its own or great for toast or sandwiches.  I am so tempted to make this again next week as dinner rolls or use it in stuffing.  Then again, this bread sort of has the makings of stuffing baked right in.  I don't know, I really need to nail down what I'm making for Thanksgiving.  I'll try to stick to tradition, but knowing me...well, you just never know what you'll get at my house.

The mingling of pumpkin, rosemary, wild rice and cherry began to dance in my head as I thought of Weird Recipe Wednesday ideas.  I fluttered through a dozen different ideas and variations before settling on this yeast bread.  I'm so glad I did, this really hit the spot.  After all was said and done I decided it was just the thing for a Fermented Friday.  Yeast breads are so much more practical than attempting to incorporate beer or wine into everyday food, don't you think?

A bakery I worked in a few summer's ago made a cranberry wild rice bread that was always a big seller.  Making this loaf reminded me of those early mornings, kneading and baking some of the best bread.  The entire process is so therapeutic.  I made bread three times over the past week, I really need to make that part of my routine.  It just feels so right. (Not to mention the heavenly aromas and unmatchable taste.)  There's nothing like it. 

Pumpkin Wild Rice Bread with Rosemary and Dried Cherries
base recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp canola oil
3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped

* In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add milk, egg, pumpkin, oil, 2 cups flour, brown sugar and salt. Beat vigorously until batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Gradually add remaining flour to form a stiff dough.  Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Knead in wild rice, rosemary and dried cherries, working in additional flour as needed.  Place in an oiled bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
* Punch down and knead slightly. Shape into loaf* and place in a well-greased 9-x-5-inch loaf pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
* Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake loaf 45-55 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F. (I couldn't get mine above 180 no matter how long I baked it, after 55 minutes I decided it's time for a new thermometer.) Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

*These would also make great dinner rolls. For rolls, decrease baking time to 18-25(?) minutes.

Food for Thought: "Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts." -James Beard 

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