Spiced Pumpkin Bread/Kürbisgewürzbrot (Germany)

kurbis_loaf

Rye %: 30%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 4 – 4½hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: One 2¼ lb./1.1 kg

Spiced Pumpkin Bread is a great example of how European bakers included a wide range of ingredients, such as oil seeds, nuts, cabbage, carrots, potatoes – even moss and the ground inner bark of pine trees – to augment and extend their flour in times of scarcity. Although the custom first developed during pre-Industrial times, when famine was a real and recurring challenge, it has persisted into these times of plenty, much to our good fortune.

What with it being autumn and the pumpkin-spice marketing blitz in full hue and cry, I had mixed feelings about baking and blogging it. On one hand, I’m not a bandwagon-jumper, and the sheer volume and ubiquity of the pumpkin-spice hype aroused a strong reluctance to become just another seasonally opportunistic self-promoter. On the other hand, this is a really good bread that deserves its moment in the seasonal sun.

I adapted this particular recipe from Ingeborg Biermann, a baker from Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) in northern Germany. It uses a massive amount of pumpkin – 100% of total flour weight – and contains 30% rye and 70% wheat, although I suspect that when this bread first came to light, the bakers used anything they could find – barley, oats, buckwheat, spelt.

I’ve baked this bread before, using canned pumpkin. For this bake, I roasted a cooking pumpkin and, frankly, the difference was stunning: I’m through with the canned stuff, even if it means I can only have this bread a couple of months a year.

The fresh pumpkin produced a moist, open and coarse crumb with a complex flavor profile that combines the sweet-sour of the pumpkin with the spiciness of the rye and subtle caraway-anise notes. Poppy and sesame seeds add a delicate crunch to the chew, punctuated by the rich nuttiness of coarsely chopped walnuts. This is a great all-around table bread, as good with cheese and charcuterie as it is with soups and stews.

kurbis_slice

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s percentage

TOTAL FLOUR

500

17.65

100.00%

   Whole wheat flour

350

12.35

70.00%

   Medium rye flour

150

5.30

30.00%

Water

100

3.55

20.00%

Salt

10

0.35

2.00%

Instant yeast

8

0.30

1.60%

Fresh or canned pumpkin, mashed

500

17.65

100.00%

Chopped walnuts

60

2.10

12.00%

Vegetable oil

45

1.60

9.00%

Sesame seed

9

0.30

1.80%

Poppyseed

9

0.30

1.80%

Ground caraway seed

3

0.10

0.60%

Ground anise seed

3

0.10

0.60%

   TOTAL FORMULA

1,247

44.00

249.40%

 

kurbis_mixCombine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and use the dough hook at low (KA2) speed to mix into a soft, sticky dough, 8-10 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature (70°F/21°C) until doubled in bulk, 60-75 minutes.

Return the dough to the mixer and use the dough hook at low speed to return the dough to its original volume, 2-3 minutes.

kurbis_benchTurn the dough, which will be very sticky, onto a well-floured work surface and use floured hands to shape it into a rounded oblong loaf. Place the loaf on a well-floured peel or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover and proof at room temperature until the loaf has visibly expanded and the surface shows cracks or broken bubbles, 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C and bake until the bottom of the loaf thumps when tapped with a finger and the internal temperature is at least 198°F/92°C, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.

kurbis_bakedNote: To bake a fresh pumpkin, cut it in half, remove the seeds and place the halves cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet (I line mine with aluminum foil for easy cleanup). Bake at 325°F/165°C (300°F/150°C for convection ovens) until the flesh is tender, about 1 hour. Let cool and use a spoon to scrape the flesh out of the skin. Put the flesh through a sieve or ricer.


One Comments

  • Mark Hogue

    December 21, 2016

    I made a variation with:
    Roasted sunflower seeds instead of walnuts;
    Omitted the poppy, caraway and anise seeds;
    Hodgson Mill whole grain rye (the only rye flour I could find at my local Publix);
    Mostly white whole wheat for the whole wheat flour.

    The nut omission was because of an allergic person in my family. The other changes were because of what I had on hand.

    For the pumpkin, I used a fresh decorative pumpkin. Maybe the pumpkins grown to eat are better, but this one is good. What a mess trying to use a ricer on it though – I switched to a food processor which worked great.

    I’m so excited about how it turned out. It doesn’t have any overbearing flavors. The pumpkin is surprisingly subtle. There’s just a hint of rye to my taste buds – stronger wheat flavor. The sunflower seeds give it an appealing crunch.

    Reply

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