After Diwali , its Halloween time, though we Indians do not celebrate Halloween, but I would love to cook or bake something according to the theme, specially when you stays in USA.
Everywhere, the people, the shopping malls, the streets are all decked up with Halloween theme, channels are showing all Halloween based or rather spooky movies which are enough to give you some nightmarish thoughts, chefs are dishing out gourmet food for the Halloween fiesta, children dressed up in all imaginary sort of spooky costumes playing trick or treats and pumpkin patches creeping everywhere in all shapes and sizes, begging you to pick them up for carving a jack – o – lantern or make something delicious out of it. How can you not indulge in these Halloween fever ?
Last weekend we attended a Halloween festival at Providence, RI. And wow !!! what a show it was !!! Some 5000 pumpkins were set to glow in a magical display of artistry transforming the place into a spectacular pumpkin town displaying wonders of the world, people, culture, art and history, beautifully painted and themed around “a journey around the world”. Truly magical and not to be missed.
Pumpkins of tiniest to gigantic shapes were either painted to tell a story from the past or carved beautifully which speaks itself about artist’s imaginations and aesthetic senses.
Some were even made out to make-believe haunted house, bellowing some colorful smokes teeming up with haunted and spooky musical beats, that too under a cloudy nights with crescent moon showing its faded glimpse, creepy branches all along your way, a lone boat, an isolated pier and a dark lake with all sorts of ghostly shadows.
If that sends you enough shiver down your spine, then do visit them, you will be super-impressed. Earlier, the festival was till October 31, but now it got extended till 6th November and go early to book your tickets, otherwise a huge queue will be waiting for you, enjoy the show with a fried dough !
Well, let’s have some pumpkin bread now, which turn out quiet good for us as we are not the daily bakers, and am still learning the skills to make a perfect bread. So, here we go. This recipe has been adapted from the book on ” baking : a commonsense guide”.
Pumpkin (chopped) : 300g
Dried yeast : 1 sachet of 7 gm
Salt : 1 tsp
White bread flour ( I use King Arthur bread flour) : 4 1/2 cup
Egg (optional) : 1 beaten required for brushing. You can use oil too.
Pumpkin seeds / pepitas to decorate
Boil the pumpkin for 10 minutes or until tender. Strain thoroughly and then mash.
Do not discard the water, keep it separate to make stock for pumpkin soup.
Meanwhile, empty a sachet of dried yeast in a bowl with warm water (1/4 cup water ) and stir well. You can add quarter spoon of sugar to it for yeast to feed upon. Keep it for at least 10 minutes, till the yeast becomes frothy. If the yeast does not foam, then it is dead and start again with another pack.
Sift the salt and flour in a large mixing bowl, add the mashed pumpkin, yeast mixture along with water. Mix until combined.
Turn onto a floured surface, and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and brush the dough with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 hour until well risen.
Punch down the dough, knead for 1 minute, then pull away a golf sized piece of dough.
Shape the remaining dough into a smooth ball and place in the greased loaf tin.
Roll the smaller ball into a rope of 35 cm long and tie into a loose knot and place across the top of the dough, then seal the edges with water to hold in place. This step is optional, you can omit it if you wish.
Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for another 1 hour or until risen to the top of the tin.
Preheat the oven to 415 F. Beat the egg with 2 teaspoon of water and brush over the dough.
Those who want to make it egg less, you can use oil / milk for brushing it.
Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven to 350 F, then bake for another 20 minute or until cooked.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool and cut it into slices to serve.
Enjoy the pumpkin bread with creamy pumpkin soup which is going to follow soon.
Tips on Yeasting :
- always use the yeast by its date stamped on the packet.
- Sugar is the food for yeast. So feed them with little sugar and in turn you will get a nice frothy yeast mixture.
- If the room temperature is colder than the average specially in winter months and if there is no warm place in the room, then switch on the oven for 1 minute at 400 F and keep the dough inside the oven after switching off the oven. Dough will rise to the brim of the bowl.