With the Fall starts the pumpkin season. Here in the States that means not just the pumpkins but of course the pumpkin spice too. It reminds me of the spice we use for soft gingerbread and gingerbread cake – “perník” in Slovakia. Personally I love this season from beginning of September to January.
Pumpkin breads with pumpkin puree are a hit lately, but what about sweet brioche with spices? When I looked for the recipe a few years ago, I found inspiration on mydailysourdough, but it was still more bread than brioche with less sugar. But the image of sweet pumpkin brioche served with something warm like hot cocoa or tea with honey was tempting. So I started experimenting until I got these buttery soft pumpkin buns. The actual shape of the pumpkin was the final touch.
Ingredients for the dough:
100g active sourdough starter (100% hydration, bread/strong wheat flour)
700g all purpose flour
300g pumpkin puree
135g egg (3 eggs size M)
8g (2 tsp) pumpkin spice or pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 – 60 ml milk (be careful, it depends on the type of pumpkin puree, if you are using the canned pumpkin puree, you probably won’t need any milk *)
1 egg for the egg wash
Almond or pecan slices for decoration
Mix the starter, flour, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, pumpkin spice and pumpkin puree lightly (if you use the baked pumpkin puree, you can add the milk too). Knead until the dough is smooth and passes the window test. Then add the soft butter and knead until it is incorporated properly. At the end the dough should be soft and elastic. Cover the bowl with cloth or cling wrap. Leave it to rest, in this phase you can put it in the fridge or a cool place overnight. It has higher content of butter, almost like a brioche. The cool slow fermentation helps to develop a beautiful taste and the butter will not sweat from the dough. But if you want, you can let it rest at RT, just be careful, the temperature shouldn’t be too high. Then leave it to rise until doubled.
In the morning take the dough from the fridge, if you chose the cool fermentation and leave it to rise at RT until doubled. After that punch it down and fold it into a round ball. Then, cut the dough into pieces (90-95g each). Round them and then use baking twine to shape them as pumpkins. The twine can’t be tied too tight, because after that it has to rise again. Let them rise again until doubled. After the second rise, use the egg wash, stick the piece of almond or pecan on the top, so it will look like a pumpkin stem. Then bake in a preheated oven at 210°C (410°F) for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature and bake at 180°C (355°F). Bake until golden and the internal temperature reaches 89°C (192°F)(approx. 30 minutes).
Let it cool, untie the baking twine and then enjoy. They are delicious when served warm with butter and honey. Great after a walk in the park, when the temperature outside is cool and you want to eat something nice while drinking hot chocolate or tea.
*the canned puree is more watery, almost like baby food, so if you are using that, you don’t need any milk, otherwise the dough would be too soft
If you want to use the puree made from baked pumpkin, just cut the pumpkin in halves, take out the seeds and put it the oven heated at 180°C(355°F) and bake until gets soft. Then take the baked pulp and blend it.
You can choose any pumpkin, personally I love the pie pumpkin (New England pie pumpkin), butternut squash, Hokkaido pumpkin or acorn squash. The last one is more watery and lighter in color, but still delicious.