Yeasted Pumpkin Bread
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (or 1 teaspoon, see *)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (I used canned)
2 T oil (I used olive)
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 t salt
1 1/2 t ginger (or whatever spice combination you like)
3 cups whole-wheat flour
3-4 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over the water and let stand for a few minutes. Mix pumpkin, apple sauce, oil, eggs, brown sugar, salt, spice(s), and 2 cups of the whole wheat flour into yeast mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon to make a thick batter. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, stopping when the dough forms a soft mass. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, sprinkling with flour as you go. It will be very sticky to start. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a large oiled bowl with a towel over it or a lidded container. Let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, at least two hours. I made mine in the early evening and let it go overnight, * so I only used 1 teaspoon yeast. The longer the rise, the less yeast you need.
If you want nuts, seeds, or dried fruit in your bread, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangle. Sprinkle with goodies. Roll up the dough and knead it until everything is evenly distributed. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a round. Place on a floured or greased baking sheet and allow to rise for another hour or so, until doubled in size.
Heat your oven during the last half hour or so of the rise, with an empty rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack. Slash a pattern on top of your loaves with a sharp razor blade (optional). Pull out the rack on the bottom and carefully put 1/2 cup water in it, slide back in (steam makes for a better rise!). Quickly put the pumpkin loaves on the middle rack and close the door. Bake for 30-35 minutes until well browned and the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Cool on wire racks.
This tastes great toasted or plain. Gild the lily by mixing equal amounts of softened butter and olive or sunflower oil together and adding a little honey to sweeten it. Spread it over and smile.