Braided Pumpkin Bread & a Visit with Walnut

It's raining. Walnut and I are stuck inside. Drinking tea. Well, I'm drinking tea. He's sleeping. Probably dreaming of gophers stuck in deceptively shallow holes. While wearing his awesome scarf. Totally.

I have another round of bread (actually challah) rising in the kitchen.

I'm wearing my new Missoni (for Target) rubber boots. (They rock, by the way, and yes I woke up at dawn to get them when the store opened.)

I have a corner office, you know, with a window. Because that's how I roll in my corner office, also know as my second bedroom. But I have a window! And I can hear the rain! And Walnut is never more than a few feet away.

Yeah. So, totally awesome. Oh, and I made this bread. It's orange. Which is pretty much my favorite color. I'm wearing orange lounge pants to match right now. And drinking tea out of an orange mug.

You know. Because I like to match Fall, not just enjoy it. I'm obviously too cool for, well, er, Walnut. Recipe after the jump...far below all the awesome pictures.

Braided Pumpkin Bread

Makes 2 bread wreaths. Barely tweaked from King Arthur Flour

  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl (electric mixer with a dough hook works best, or do by hand). Mix until dough becomes smooth and sticky and flour is fully incorporated.

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled boil, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours to rise. Dough will nearly double during this time.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly oiled surface (to do this, rub some veg or canola oil on your counter or a large cutting board). Divide dough into halves, then each half into three pieces, so you'll have 6 equally sized pieces, a little smaller than a baseball.

Roll each piece into a long log, about 18" long. Working with three logs at a time, push the ends together and one end, then braid down them, pushing the opposite ends together once the braid reaches the other side.

Coil the braid into a round and pinch into a closed loop, then place in a lightly oiled 8" or 9" cake pan. Repeat with the other three logs and place in another pan.

Cover pans with plastic wrap (oil it first) and let rise again for about 90 minutes. The wreaths will nearly double in size again and "fill out" the width of the pan a bit more.

Preheat oven to 350 F and bake for about 30 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the loaf reads 190 F. Remove from oven, lightly remove loaves from pans and cool on a rack.