Isn’t it nice how winter squashes can be stored for a while before being used? A few weeks ago, I received a couple of cute, little winter squashes in my last CSA pick up of the summer season and didn’t get around to using them until last week. They were still fine and could have waited even longer before being used. The reason they were finally used was for what is actually called pumpkin bread in the Breads from the La Brea Bakery book. Even though it’s called pumpkin bread, it was supposed to have been made with either sweet potatoes or kabosha squash. I used the squashes I had and roasted an acorn squash as well just to be sure I would have at least the 10 ounces of squash pulp that’s needed. Silverton’s reason for using sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin is because they add more flavor and color to the bread. Since my squashes’ insides were rather light, I failed to add color to my bread, but it smelled amazing as it baked and had a nice, chewy texture. Pumpkin in the name also refers to the pumpkin seeds which add a nice crunch to the crumb. I should point out that this is not a sweet type of pumpkin bread. It's made into small, savory loaves, and the squash flavor is accented by cumin in the dough.
Although this is a two-day bread, there is a six to ten hour waiting period on the first day, so I got an early start. First, the squashes were roasted, cooled, peeled, and the pulp was mashed. The dough was made from sourdough starter, water, wheat germ, cumin, bread flour, whole wheat flour, and squash pulp. Then, raw pepitas were toasted and added to the dough with salt. There was no additional commercial yeast in this dough, so, as usual when using only starter, I was nervous. The dough seemed dense, but I hoped that was just because of the squash and pepitas. The dough went into the refrigerator to ferment for about seven hours. It was then brought back to room temperature and divided into three pieces, and unfortunately, I’m not capable of dividing dough into equal pieces. They were close enough. After resting for a bit, each piece of dough was formed into a football shape, and I did a better job of football forming than last time. I’m learning. It helped that Silverton wrote that the loaves should look like sweet potatoes which I look at more often than footballs. The loaves were then covered with a cloth and wrapped in a plastic garbage bag and left in the refrigerator to proof for ten hours.
The next morning, I removed the plastic bag and brought the loaves up to room temperature. The oven was heated to 500 degrees F, and the loaves were slashed and loaded on a peel. The oven was spritzed with water, the loaves went in, the temperature was lowered to 450, and more spritzing was repeated during the first five minutes of baking. After a total baking time of 35 minutes, the pretty, little, football-sweet-potato-shaped, squash loaves were browned and crusty and delivered to the cooling rack. As noted in the recipe, this bread has a more even interior texture, and the seeds and squash give it some heft. It’s a hearty kind of bread, and it was delicious slathered with Irish butter. Next time, I’ll make it with sweet potatoes for a brighter color, but the squash worked very well otherwise.
I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.