A simple yet artful way to expand your sourdough is to add different purees to the dough. In this case, a generous dollop of silky pumpkin puree stains the crumb a beautiful, brassy orange color. The pumpkin flavor is not very pronounced, but cranberries soaked in fresh orange juice, cinnamon, and spices give the bread that familiar seasonal taste. Enjoy this sourdough on a brisk autumn day or with Thanksgiving leftovers for the full effect. My dad likes to fry day-old slices in a hot skillet with melted butter.
About the Dough: This dough wins the award for most improved. After mixing, it will feel sticky and stiff, more so than usual. Once it rests—the longer the better—the texture will morph into a soft, mousse-like mass. You can’t help but want to touch it!
- Yield: 1 Loaf
- ¼ cup (50 g) bubbly, active starter
- 1 cup plus 2 tsp (250 g) warm water
- ¾ cup (184 g) good-quality pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
- 4 cups plus 2 tbsp (500 g) bread flour
- 1½ tsp (9 g) fine sea salt
- 1 cup (130 g) dried cranberries
- 1 tbsp (12 g) sugar
- 1 tsp (5 g) pure vanilla extract
- Pinch each of ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
- 4 clementines or 1 orange
- 1½ cup (180 g) pumpkin seeds, for coating
- A few days before baking, feed your starter until bubbly and active. Store at room temperature until ready to use.
- MAKE THE DOUGH: In a large bowl, whisk the starter, water, and pumpkin puree together with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Mix to combine until a stiff dough forms, then finish by hand until the flour is fully absorbed. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to preference.
- Meanwhile, add the cranberries, sugar, vanilla, and spices to a small bowl. Halve the clementines and squeeze the juice over the cranberries. It’s okay if the cranberries are not completely submerged. Stir well to combine. Taste one too—they’re really good. Do not drain.
- ADD THE FILLINGS: After the dough has rested, add the cranberries with their soaking juice to the bowl. Gently knead the fillings to incorporate, about 1 minute.
- BULK RISE: Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature, 70°F (21°C), for about 6 to 8 hours, or until double in size.
- SHAPE THE DOUGH AND COAT WITH SEEDS: Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into an oval and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line a 10-inch (25-cm) oval proofing basket with a towel and set aside. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a damp kitchen towel.
- With floured hands, gently cup the dough and pull it toward you to tighten its shape. Then brush the surface and sides of the dough with water. Using a bench scraper, place the dough onto the pumpkin seeds, wet side down. Lift up the sides of the towel and rock it back and forth to coat the dough. Place the dough into your basket, seam side up.
- SECOND RISE: Cover the dough, and let rest until puffy but not fully risen, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the size of your baking pot.
- SCORE: Place the parchment over the dough and invert the basket to release. Make a long cut down the length of the dough using the tip of a small serrated knife or a razor blade. Try to be quick and precise with this one—your blade will inevitably catch on some of the seeds. Use the parchment to transfer the dough into the baking pot.
- BAKE: Bake the dough on the center rack for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 40 minutes. Additional baking time inside the pot, as opposed to baking directly on the oven rack, will protect the seeds from burning. Cool for 1 hour before slicing.
- This loaf will stay fresh up to 1 day stored at room temperature in a plastic bag.