Today was a beautiful winter day here in central Pennsylvania. Cold and crisp with lots of sunshine. I trudged the hills with my dog Max and my sisters dog Bailey. It was a welcome break from baking and prepping ingredients the rest of the day (I am catering a Christmas tea this weekend for about 40 ladies).
As I explored and refreshed my mind with a walk, I was struck by how busy our lifestyles are this time of year. I know it is important to send Christmas cards, buy gifts, bake those Christmas cookies and entertain friends, but often we miss out on the enjoyment of these things because we scurry to the next task on our list. In the midst of "making your list and checking it twice," take one step back to soak in the moment and cherish those around you.
Now that I shared my thoughts, I want to share an amazing recipe from a new cookbook I recently purchased. This pumpkin cheese bread intrigued me as soon as I turned to its page. I knew it was either going to be terrible or terrific, and I took a risk, mixed up a batch and served it along side the soup and salad course for Thanksgiving dinner. The "big" risk equaled big reward! It was the highlight of our meal!
If you have a can of pumpkin and some sharp cheddar cheese in your kitchen...go make this! If you don't have the ingredients, pull on your old sweats and go get them.......now that your back.....make this bread! Get the point?? Make this bread!!! :) The dough does have to be refrigerated overnight, but the recipe is incredibly simple. I ate this warm out of the oven, toasted for breakfast and (shhhh...) as a grilled cheese sandwich.
Pumpkin Cheese Bread
Source: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Prep: 15 minutes Let Stand: Overnight Rise: 1 hour Bake: 50 minutes Oven: 375 degrees F
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast (1 envelope)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt and cayenne. Add 1 cup water, the pumpkin and cheese and mix until well combined. The dough will be slightly sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it forms a smooth ball. (Add flour as needed) Sprinkle a large bowl with flour and add the ball of dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day take the dough out of the refrigerator, transfer to a lightly floured work surface and flatten the dough to a rough rectangle with your hands. Use the butter to coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Roll the dough up into a cylindrical shape and place seam-side down in the loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until almost doubled in volume.
Meanwhile, when the dough has risen for 35 minutes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Slash the loaf down the center with a sharp knife. Brush the loaf with the egg-water wash. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Turn the bread out of the pan and onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I used about 1 1/2 cups of extra sharp cheddar cheese.
I did not bother with the egg wash and just used regular yeast, not rapid rise.