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Maybe it's our lifelong familiarity with one of the holidays' cliché staples -- pumpkin pie -- but we can hardly imagine baking anything with pumpkin and not including ginger as one of the spices. Ginger and pumpkin are two flavors that just seem to go together, like apples and cinnamon. And they team beautifully in this bright-gold, moist, dense holiday bread. Serve it as the centerpiece of a bread basket at dinner, or with a creamy lunchtime soup.
4 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced candied ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 3/4 cups pumpkin*
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
*Just plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.
Manual/Mixer Method: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, spices, sugar, ginger, salt and yeast, mixing till everything is well-distributed. In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin, eggs and melted butter till well-combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough with an electric mixer for 2 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until it's smooth. Add the raisins, and continue kneading just until they're incorporated.
If you're kneading by hand, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface; knead it for 3 minutes, allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading till smooth, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Add more flour sparingly, and only if the dough is absolutely impossible to work with by hand. Knead in the raisins right at the end.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours; it should be just about doubled in bulk.
Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients except the raisins into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. This dough may initially be a bit heavy for some machines; if necessary, use a spatula to help it get going. About 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, adjust the consistency of the dough with additional flour or water; it should be soft and smooth. About 4 to 5 minutes before the end of the kneading cycle, add the raisins. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it in half then divide each half into three pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch log.
Working with three logs at a time, place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Braid them together; be sure to pinch the ends together well, and tuck them under. Repeat with the remaining logs. Set the braids aside, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap or an acrylic dough-rising cover, to rise for 1 hour; they should look puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk.
Bake the bread in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the braids from oven, and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Serve them warm or at room temperature. If any is left over after a few days, use bread to make bread pudding (recipe follows).Yield: two 10-inch braids.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Creamy, sweet and warm in the tummy, this delicious bread pudding is just the ticket on a cold winter day. It got rave reviews from our group of testers -- also known as our customer service team, the friendly folks you talk to when you call our 800 number or baker's hotline.
By the way, this basic formula can be used to make bread pudding from all kinds of leftover bread, even savory herb or cheese-type breads. Simply leave out the pumpkin and add a cup of dried raisins or other dried fruit, if desired. If you're making a savory bread pudding, leave out the sugar and spices (though adding a bit of dry mustard and a cup or two of grated cheese is delightful). Also, if you have just a small amount of leftover bread, cut back the recipe proportionately and bake in a smaller pan, cutting back the baking time accordingly.
6 eggs *Plain pumpkin or squash, not pie filling.
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin or squash*
2 cups (16 ounces) light cream
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
3/4 cup (5 7/8 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) rum (optional)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 to 8 cups pumpkin-ginger bread, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then stir in the canned pumpkin, mixing until well-blended. Add the cream, milk, sugar, rum, spices and vanilla, stirring to blend.
Grease a 2-quart baking dish, or 8 to 10 individual custard cups. Place the cubed bread in the dish in an even layer, and pour the liquid mixture over it. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, or for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
When you're ready to bake the pudding, stir it together to redistribute the custard; quite a bit of it will have been absorbed by the bread. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 50 minutes (for a 2-quart casserole), or 20 to 25 minutes (for individual baking cups), or until set. Serve warm with whipped cream, vanilla sauce or ice cream.