Sunday, October 9, 2011

'Tis the season

RAIN!!  It rained today, a lot!  I think we've had more rain in the past 24 hours that we've had in the past several months combined.  This is the first day that it's really felt like fall--I think we barely hit 70º today.  So awesome. =)  Not that the lack of cooler weather has kept me from baking--once the calendar says October, I don't care what the temperature is, I'm baking with fall ingredients.  Heck, I was so sick of summer, I started in September, when it was still getting over 100º on occasion.  My favorite fall ingredient is definitely apples.  While I do like to use local ingredients when I can, I think that the best apples are from New York.  We are starting to get some of them down here, but it takes a little while to get the full variety.  So I'm also baking with my second favorite fall ingredient, pumpkin.

For my blogging friend Phyl, pumpkin is definitely a favorite ingredient.  So much so that he invited a bunch of us to join him in making and posting pumpkin recipes today.  We're aiming to have a full dinner's worth--with a whole lot of courses, I think.  I usually go for dessert, but I figured there would be several others more than willing to cover that course.  So I decided to make a recipe that I've been wanting to for a long time--the Pumpkin Brioche from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking.

The Secrets of Baking is one of the cookbooks that started off my very large (and still growing) collection of baking books.  My husband got it for me for a birthday or another occasion--I can't remember exactly anymore.  It was published in 2003 and he got it not long after publication, so I've had it a long time.  It's a really nice book for someone who likes to bake but is looking to expand their repertoire of pastry skills.  Each chapter starts with a basic recipe that shows a technique, like caramel or pound cake, and then uses that as a jumping off point for more complex recipes.  I have quite a few technique books now, but this is still one of my favorites.  

I've made brioche before, so this recipe wasn't as scary as I thought it would be when I first got the book.  It's a medium-rich dough, so it's buttery without being a huge pain to work with.  I used canned pumpkin puree, but you could certainly use fresh if you have it.  I made a few small adjustments to the recipe.  Since this is a rich dough, I used my SAF Gold yeast.  I had extra large eggs in my fridge, so I only used 5 instead of 6.  This is a pretty forgiving dough, since I totally didn't follow the mixing instructions.  I forgot that you're supposed to develop the gluten with about 5 minutes of kneading before  you add the butter.  I added it not long after I added the eggs.  So I just kneaded longer after the butter went in--about 8 minutes, I think.  Everything still worked out okay.

The recipe says that it makes 3 pounds of dough, but by my measurements, it's actually about 4 pounds (about 1.8 kilos).  I used about a kilo of the dough to make sandwich rolls--a dozen rolls of 85 grams (3 ounces) each.  I'm still deciding what to do with the remaining dough--maybe cinnamon rolls.  After shaping the rolls, I let them proof at room temperature for about 2 hours, then baked them at 350ºF for 25 minutes.  As usual, I skipped the egg wash, though you could certainly use it if you prefer shiny brioche. 

The verdict?  Fantastic!  The rolls don't really taste like pumpkin, but as Brianna said, there's something different about them.  The color is gorgeous.  And I think this is my favorite style of brioche--you can taste the butter, but it's not out of control.  I used one roll to make a ham sandwich for lunch, and it was delicious.  I think they would also be tasty with jam.  Brianna was enthusiastic about having them in her lunch, so I'm sure we'll be making these again.  

Phyl should have the full round-up of pumpkin dishes on his blog sometime this week, so head over to check it out.  Updated: You can find the round-up here. And for more delicious breads and rolls, be sure to check out Yeastspotting.  

Pumpkin Brioche
(adapted from Sherry Yard's The Secret of Baking)

170 grams (3/4 cup) whole milk, at room temperature
5 grams SAF gold instant yeast (or regular instant yeast)
225 grams (1 cup) pumpkin puree
65 grams (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
140 grams (1 cup) bread flour

700 grams (5 cups) bread flour
14 grams (2 teaspoons) table salt
5 extra large eggs (267 grams out of the shells) or 6 large eggs, room temperature
225 grams (1 cup, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

This brioche starts with a sponge.  Put the milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine.  Let stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is dissolved and starts to bubble a bit.  (This step isn't absolutely necessary with instant yeast, but I figure in a rich dough like this, the head start for the yeast is still a good idea.)  Mix in the pumpkin, sugar and the cup of flour.  I like to use my dough whisk for this, but you could also use your mixer with the paddle attachment.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the sponge stand at room temperature until bubbly, 30 to 45 minutes.

For the dough, first add the flour and the salt to the sponge.  Next mix in the eggs until they are absorbed.  Then add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time.  Once all the butter is in, switch to the dough hook.  (You can do so sooner if you need to, but I found it easier to mix the butter in with the paddle.)  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then knead with the dough hook for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny.  Transfer the dough to a well-oiled 4-quart container and turn the dough so it is coated with oil on all sides.  Cover the container (mine has its own lid) and let the dough rise until it is doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Deflate the dough by folding the dough over on itself. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.  It will rise to fill the container again.  Once chilled, the dough can be made into loaves or rolls or used for other recipes.  For the rolls I made, remove about half the dough from the container.  Divide the dough into 12 pieces of about 85 grams (3 ounces) each.  You could also do 60 gram (2 ounce) pieces for dinner rolls.  Roll the dough pieces into smooth, tight rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spray lightly with oil (I use Pam) and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.  During the last 30 minutes of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size.  The rolls will be nicely browned and register about 195ºF internal temperature when done.  Transfer the rolls to a rack and let them cool before serving. 


  1. Those are beautiful, Di. Perfectly round and I bet they were tasty. There IS something different about Pumpkin in bread...

  2. These look so good! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I think this will be the first Pumpkin Roundup recipe I try!

  3. I love the picture of the little rolls with the little cute and festive! These sound really tasty. I can't wait to hear about the cinnamon roll version!! And hurray for you know, I think we were actually warmer than you for once: we were in the mid 80s!

  4. They look so perfectly formed, I am so in awe of your bread shaping talents over there. Such a pretty color, too. I guess I need to try these very soon...I have my bread baking desires back again. Great job, thanks for the recipe.

  5. Our conversation this morning about your brioche rolls makes a lot more sense now that I've seen this post :) These look phenomenal! I kind of want to make them for Thanksgiving and save the extra dough to make the cinnamon rolls for myself the weekend afterward.

  6. These rolls sound very enticing. I've not made brioche before, so this might be the first recipe I try. I thought your pictures were really great, with combining the pumpkins and rolls at different angles in the same picture. Great post!

  7. Wow, they look really nice. Would have loved to see a picture of the interior. I can only imagine how gorgeous the color is. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I think making cinnamon rolls with the leftover dough would be a great idea!