Chow Town

Great bread coming out of the pumpkin patch

I’m still amazed that you can make great bread by stirring simple ingredients together in a bowl, putting it on the kitchen counter to rise for two hours, then refrigerating or baking with it.

These pumpkin pullaparts are easy to make, beautiful to behold, and delicious to eat. They’re going to feature on our family’s Thanksgiving table this year, and I hope on yours, too.

Pumpkin Pullaparts

This recipe will make enough pullaparts for 24 to 28 people — enough for your Thanksgiving or autumn feast. And the leftovers can go in the freezer for up to 3 months or make a wonderful bread pudding. The brioche dough turns even more golden — and a little less rich — when you add cooked, pureed squash or pumpkin. Adapted from my “200 Fast Easy Artisan Breads” (Robert Rose, 2009).

Makes rolls to serve 24 to 28 people

For the Dough:

6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting 2 tablespoons instant or bread machine yeast 1 1/2 tbsp fine kosher salt 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk 1 cup unsalted butter, melted 8 large eggs, beaten 1 cup cooked/canned, pureed pumpkin or butternut squash 3/4 cup lukewarm water, about 100°F

For the Filling:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (or 1 cup pumpkin butter)

For the Egg Wash:

1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, salt and sugar to the flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk.

Combine the buttermilk and butter and add to the flour mixture, then the eggs. Combine the pumpkin or squash and water and stir into the flour mixture. Beat 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 72 F for two hours or until the dough has risen near the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance. Use that day or place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking.

To form the pull-aparts, remove half of the dough. Transfer the dough portion to a floured surface and dust very lightly with flour. Flour your hands. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, roll the floppy dough into a 12 by 8-inch rectangle. For the filling, spread half the filling over the dough with a spatula or knife, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter. Starting with a long end, roll the dough into a cylinder with your hands. If the dough begins to stick to the surface, use the dough scraper to push flour under the dough and scrape it up. Gently press and squeeze as you’re rolling to form the dough into a solid cylinder. With a pastry brush, brush off any excess flour. With the dough scraper, slice the cylinder into 1-inch pieces. Arrange the pieces, vertically — so the filling doesn’t show — in a pinwheel fashion in buttered 8-inch cake pans so that the rolls are almost touching. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Mix the egg wash ingredients together and brush over the tops of the rolls. Cover with a tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Bake for 32 to 34 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the rolls registers at least 190 F. Cool on a wire rack.

Award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig lives, cooks, bakes, grills and writes in Overland Park, Kan. She is the author of “Heartland: The Cookbook” and “I Love Cinnamon Rolls,” and the co-author of “The Gardener and the Grill” and the IACP award winning “The Back in the Swing Cookbook.”