Pumpkin cafe au lait

Oh yeah baby, let the pumpkin feast continue!  Better Half is probably grateful he’s away so he isn’t constantly subjected to my pumpkin love, but I just can’t help it.   I rarely drink coffee in the afternoon, but it was chilly and I was knitting (what, am I 90?) and it was a tad early for a hot toddy, so coffee it was!  Hum, pumpkin coffee.  Sure, those fancy-schmancy coffee shops sell pumpkin lattés, but just to be different (and add more calories), I decided a pumpkin café au lait would be so much better!  Mmm–it was!

Pumpkin café au lait

¾ cup hot strong-brewed French coffee
½ cup milk
⅓ cup half/half or heavy cream
3½ tablespoons puréed pumpkin
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
Dash cinnamon
Dash ground cloves
Dash nutmeg
1 tablespoon brown sugar (opt.-for sweet drink)

While coffee is brewing, stir remaining ingredients together in small saucepan and heat until hot (not boiling).  Mix coffee and milk mixture together.  FYI:  if you are not fond of spices loose in your drink, brew your coffee together with the spices.

Now if I just had a pumpkin beignet. . . .

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Yeast Bread

In my ongoing attempts to convince Mother Nature have Fall arrive in my neck of the woods two months early, I’m still cooking with pumpkin!  I just know that if my house smells fall-like, and I gain the requisite 10 pounds of winter weight, Fall will arrive sooner, rather than later.  With that in mind, and the fact that I had almost a cup of puréed pumpkin sitting in my fridge, here is my attempt at a yeast pumpkin bread.  Yes, I said yeast bread, not quick bread, yeast bread.  I found several pumpkin yeast breads floating around on the net, and of course, there are gazillions of cinnamon yeast bread recipes, but to combine the both?  I found zip and hence off I go to the lab kitchen, once again.  I really wanted to taste the pumpkin but not in an overly cloying way, and I wanted freshness, hence my use of fresh ginger.  Plus, I’m a fresh nutmeg type of gal, so I always grate fresh nutmeg.

I’m not going to lie to you (and lying is bad karma) and tell you the process isn’t slightly messy, what with the pumpkin and cinnamon being slung all over the place, because it is.  But oh, the results are so, so well worth it.  I kept tweaking the amounts of my flour until I got it right, so it may seem like a lot for one large loaf (9″ loaf pan), but you really need to balance the stickiness.  (FYI, I have only used King Arthur Flour for years;  I just love all their flours,  but if you can’t afford or find Kind Arthur Flour, just please use unbleached.)  Of course, if you’re a yeast bread baker, you know there is no such animal as precise measurements when it comes to flour.  It’s a trial and measure, dryness and humidity type of thing.  You’re also probably thinking I used a lot of cinnamon for the swirl; yes, I did.  If you’re going to the trouble to make cinnamon swirl you might as well go big, or go home, right?  Nothing is worse (well, in all honesty there are worse things…) than biting into a swirl of cinnamon and not really tasting the cinnamon.  Seriously, why even bother?

If you don’t think this bread is to-die for, I’ll be shocked.  I keep thinking I’m going to make french toast (divine!) out of it, but honestly it’s amazing enough just toasted with butter on it. The other bonus is this bread is really staying fresh because of the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Yeast Bread

¼ cup warm water
2-½ teaspoons active dry yeast
⅔ cup warm milk
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup puréed pumpkin
1 tablespoon oil
4-½ cups all-purpose flour (unbleached)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground or freshly grated ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cinnamon filling:
1 teaspoon water
⅓ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

In electric mixer with bowl, dissolve yeast in water.  Add milk, egg, pumpkin, oil, 2 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to yeast mixture. With paddle attachment, mix for approximately one minute.

Switch to dough hook attachment.  Add remaining flour in ¼ cup intervals and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until you a smooth, only slightly sticky, elastic ball of dough.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning dough to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap or towel and place in a warm area to rise.  After dough has doubled in size (approx. 1.5 hours), place dough on lightly floured surface and roll into a 9″ x 18″ rectangle.

Rub the water over your hands and then over surface of dough until top is barely damp.  Spread with cinnamon mixture.  Starting with short side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch seam to close.  Place seam side down in buttered bread pan.  Cover with towel or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm area until almost doubled (approx. 1.5 hours).

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven approximately 45 minutes or until done.  If bread appears to be browning too much, tent with foil.  Remove bread from pan, brush top with melted butter, if desired, and cool on a wire rack.  Makes one simply lovely, delicious loaf.

For more delicious lovely yeast love, check out YeastSpotting‘s blog.

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