I haven’t done a lot baking this year. I was deliriously in love with Emmanuel Mollois’ fantastic pastisserie book late last year but as the summer months went on and on, the last thing I wanted to do at the start of 2014 was crank up the oven. Furthermore, as I had been mostly avoiding gluten (and carbs for that matter) in the lead up to my black belt grading, baking didn’t get a revival in the cold of winter either.
Once upon a time (well, up until this year…), I used to bake every week without fail, regardless of meteorology. I even participated in the monthly challenges posted for Daring Bakers and baked things I never imagined ever making myself. Even when I decided to lay off wheat flour last year, I continued making alternative cakes and biscuits with much glee. It’s somewhat ‘wrong’ for me to not be baking…
Last month I finally felt the need to play around with dough again. Indeed, I forgot how much fun it was to work with gluten and yeast, and the rewarding smell of fresh bread in the house. I put aside my gluten avoidance issues and produced loaves, scrolls and buns aplenty. Of course, I still ate in moderation but man, I really did miss a good old fashioned loaf of homemade bread.
Something I’d always wanted to try was baking bread with cider. From what I had read, cider produces a sourdough-like bread without having to go through the rigmarole of making a starter, which requires quite a few days to prepare. If you’re in a rush, this cider bread will give you a mildly sour loaf. I used Rekorderlig’s Winter Cider in my loaves (of course I had to make more than one!) which is a dry (as opposed to sweet) and neutrally flavoured cider with a hint of spice.
For the pumpkin, you can use mashed steamed pumpkin (via Thermomix) but roasting adds an extra layer of caramel flavour and excess moisture is removed. If you steam your pumpkin, you won’t need to use as much cider or water so please adjust accordingly. I baked a loaf just in time for lunch so I paired a few slices with a sharp, aged cheddar and some homemade pomegranate and apple chutney (work in progress!).
So will there be more baked goods on the horizon? I’m still happy to avoid gluten where possible but bread making is too much fun to cut out entirely. Next on the cards will be some Japanese style milk buns with tasty fillings :)
Roasted Pumpkin & Cider Loaf
1 cup of diced pumpkin, roasted
3/4 cup cider at room temperature
lukewarm water as required to produce 300 grams of liquid in total (pumpkin, cider & water)
550g baker’s flour
7g dry yeast
pinch of salt
1 tsp of sugar
1. Blend roasted pumpkin and cider together to make a puree (blitz on Thermomix for a few seconds on Speed 5). The puree should be about 300g or 300ml. If not, add water to make up the difference.
2. Place dry ingredients in stand mixer bowl and mix to blend. Add wet ingredients. Use dough hook to produce a dough according to stand mixer instructions. If using a Thermomix, just add all dry ingredients to the TMX bowl which already has the wet ingredients in it. Use the Dough setting for 5 minutes to produce a nice dough. The dough should be one mass and come away from the side of the bowl easily. If too sticky, add tablespoons of flour until less sticky. If too dry, add tablespoons of water until the dough comes together. Cover dough with wrap and allow to rise for an hour in a warm place.
3. Once dough has doubled in size, flour a work surface and punch and knead out gas. Separate dough into three balls and place in a medium-sized greased or floured loaf pan. Cover with wrap again or damp tea towel and allow to rise again for at least 30 minutes.
4. Pre-heat oven to 180C (160C for fan-forced). If desired, give the loaf an egg wash, otherwise place in oven once ready and bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaf has a hard top and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove loaf from oven and turn bread out of tin onto a rack. Allow to cool before slicing.