Monday, October 16, 2017

Seasonal and Sensational Bread Baking Babes World Bread Day Bread

This has been a long, strange week here in Northern California. A week ago, very early in the morning, a neighbor phoned and woke me up and said she smelled smoke. Her husband is a Napa Sheriff and he had deployed to the Atlas fire in Napa, so smelling smoke here, so far away from that fire really made her nervous. We checked and there was no fire nearby, but Sweetie heard that there was one in the northern reaches of Napa, plus the wind was blowing in our direction, from the east, rather than the usual direction, from the west and the ocean.

By morning there was a lot of smoke and we could see the flames in Santa Rosa and further south from our upstairs, east-facing deck. The wildfire had spread rapidly with the high winds and already destroyed a large area in northern Santa Rosa. The fire even jumped over a six-lane freeway! Evacuations had begun just about the time my neighbor called. Thus began a week with over 40 dead, over 6 thousand structures destroyed, many, many acres burned and many thousands of people displaced. It took until today for the major evacuations to be rescinded, although there are still evacuations happening elsewhere as the fire continues to spread. Fortunately it is finally beginning to be contained by all of the brave and exhausted first responders and public safety folks from far beyond the borders of California.

We are blessed in that we have never been at risk (although I was packed and ready if the wind shifted the wrong way) and could offer our home to evacuees. The photo above is from this morning where the sun was again red due to the smoke in the air.  The smoke has been bad most days, but that has been the worst of it for us. Thank you to all who sent good wishes and prayers.

This afternoon I was able to finally find some time to make the delicious seasonal bread brought to us by our Kitchen of the Month, Judy of Judy's Gross Eats. Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread sounds sort of mundane, but this bead is not. It is moist and a little fluffy.

Mine had a good rye flavor, some pumpkin flavor, but I reduced the molasses a bit so that it didn't overwhelm the other flavors. I also used some walnut oil for the oil part which gave it a subtle nuttiness. The cornmeal provided some chew and more flavor. This is a really flavorful bread. Thank you Judy for picking it!

I decided to make 12 dinner rolls in a spiral shape and a good size braided loaf. We had some of the rolls with dinner and I really enjoyed them.

You'll love making this bread. Because it has a lot of dry yeast, it is sure to rise for you (as long as you keep your ingredients barely warm or even cooler) and it is easy to work with and shape. To be a Buddy, just bake it, take a photo, and send it by Oct. 29th to Judy. She'll send you a badge for your blog.

Be sure to check out the lovely bread made by the other Babes...and Happy World Bread Day!

Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread
Yield:  2 or 3 loaves or 24 dinner rolls

1 ½  tablespoons active dry yeast (1 ½ packets)
Pinch of sugar
1 cup warm water (105˚ to 115˚)
1 cup warm buttermilk (105˚ to 115˚)
5 tablespoons melted butter or oil
1/3 cup light molasses
½ cup pumpkin purée (either canned or homemade)
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup fine- or medium-grind yellow cornmeal
1 cup medium rye flour
4 ½ to 4 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour

In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, salt, cornmeal, and rye flour.   Whisk to mix well.

Add warm water, buttermilk, melted butter/oil, molasses, and pumpkin purée.  Beat until smooth (1 to 2 minutes) using either a whisk or the paddle attachment on a mixer.

Add the unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour, ½ cup at a time, until it becomes a soft dough. Knead until smooth and slightly tacky, either by hand or with a dough hook.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the top; cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until double, about 1 ½ to 2 hours, depending on how warm it is.

Turn onto work surface and divide the dough into 2 or 3 equal round portions.  Place on parchment-lined baking pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 45 minutes.

To make dinner rolls, divide the dough into 24 equal portions and shape as desired.

Place on parchment-lined baking pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 20 minutes, or place in refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight.

Twenty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 375˚, using a baking stone, if you wish.  While the oven is heating, brush the tops with melted butter.

Bake in the center of the preheated oven until golden brown:  40-45 minutes for loaves or 15 to 18 minutes for rolls.  Remove from oven, let cool on rack until completely cool.

(adapted from Bread for All Seasons by Beth Hensperger)


  1. I'm so glad you are safe.

    I love your braid and your little coils, and agree completely with your take on this bread. Sounds mundane, but it's anything but. I also love your use of walnut oil.

  2. How frightening to have wild fires so close to you! So glad you're okay. Ha. More than okay. Your bread looks beautiful. I particularly like the snail-like shapes of the rolls.

  3. Oh Pat my geography is so bad. I had Santa Rosa farther from you. So that lovely photo of the red sky is actually terrifying. Now I have a whole different picture in my head.
    I don't know which I love more the braid or the rolls but I do know now I should have done rolls and used honey.

  4. Pumpkin and cornmeal -- and rye and walnuts! -- aren't flavors I would have assumed would all play nicely, but it sounds an adventurous kind of good!

  5. So glad you are safe! Your rolls and braid are lovely, I really like the little snails, reminds me of ensaimada. And of course that crumb looks gorgeous. What a good idea to use the walnut oil!

  6. Karen, Was going to knead in walnuts, too, but my daughter called, so shaping and talking were the best multi-tasking I could do.
    Elizabeth, It was frightening and now sobering to see the amount of destruction. The snails were supposed to be round, but this bread really rises...all that yeast I suppose.
    Tanna, We are west of Santa Rosa, across the Santa Rosa plain, so it would have taken some even more sustained winds to get the fire to us. Close enough to see the flames...but they were massive. Never thought to use honey, but I think that would be lovely with this bread.
    Tanita, they do play nice...probably would in cookies too...
    Ensaimadas were the goal, but the little critters came undone at the ends. Still, delicious.

  7. That must have been / be so scary. Glad you are safe. I remember being near wildfires in Spain and getting ash in the house - but not nearly as close as you are.
    Great bread! (love the snails)

  8. These fires are raelly scary! Glad you are safe.
    Love your rolls, great swirl shape!

  9. I'm so glad that you have been safe in the midst of all of fires!
    Your rolls and the braid look beautiful! Love those cute little snail shapes!