Pumpkin Sourdough

Pumpkin season never ends.

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It just snowed in Minnesota last weekend, IN THE MIDDLE OF FALL, which is just depressing, really. In an attempt to stay in the fall mood, I’ve just been baking everything pumpkin and pumpkin spice, which leads me to this guy here.

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The easiest way to cook a pumpkin is just to cut the pumpkin into wedges,  de-seed the pumpkin, microwave it, then scoop the flesh from the pumpkin. I suppose you could theoretically get more flavour if you roasted the pumpkin instead, but I was just too lazy for that ok.

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Since the pumpkin doesn’t contain gluten it was difficult to add the right amount of pumpkin such that the dough was easy to work with but still contained the pumpkin flavour. The proportions I used below was enough to give a strong colour to the boule, but was not quite enough that the bread tasted like pumpkin. More of a subtle flavour.

The pumpkin somehow managed to make the bread smell amazing though.

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I based the recipe off my previous sweet potato sourdough recipe, and used the method in my toasted millet sourdough recipe just because I think it gives a more flavourful bread. I just increased the baking time a little.

Ingredients

  • 135g sourdough starter (mine was at 100% hydration, see notes)
  • 80g wholemeal flour
  • 452g strong white flour
  • 400g water
  • 225g cooked pumpkin flesh
  • 13g salt

Method

The dough (the day before baking)

  1. Mix the flours and the water. Cover and let the dough autolyse (see notes) for about 2h.
  2. Then, add the starter to the dough and mix using the pincer and fold method. Leave for another 30 mins.
  3. Stretch and fold your dough. Leave for 30 mins.
  4. Add the cooked pumpkin flesh and salt to the dough. Mix using the pincer and fold method.
  5. Stretch and fold your dough an additional three times, leaving 30 mins before each stretch and fold.
  6. Cover and let the dough rise for an additional 6 hours.
  7. Shape the dough and transfer to a well-floured banneton.
  8. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

Bake the bread

  1. Take the banneton out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for about an hour. Meanwhile, place your dutch oven in the oven and preheat to 260°C.
  2. After the hour, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Take the dutch oven out of the oven. Carefully place the dough into the dutch oven, and score the dough. Cover and return the dutch oven to the oven.
  3. Bake the bread at 260°C for 30 mins with the lid of the dutch oven on.
  4. After 30 mins, take the lid off and reduce the temperature of the oven to 230°C. Bake for an additional 15 mins.
  5. Remove the dutch oven from the oven, and transfer the bread to a cooling rack.
  6. Let the bread cool for at least 1h before cutting.

Notes

  • You could use pumpkin from a can I guess, but I’ve always thought canned pumpkin smelt a bit weird.
  • My starter was at 100% hydration. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous recipe on classic white sourdough.
  • Autolysing just means letting your flour sit with the water before you add any salt or yeast. This is supposed to make the bread easier to handle and have better structure and taste since the flour absorbs the water or something. More here.
  • Turning and folding means you don’t knead the dough. It’s just an alternative method to build structure in the dough usually used for higher hydration sourdoughs, but it can be used for any bread really. Up to your personal preference.
  • Scoring helps direct the shape your bread will rise when baked. And it looks pretty.
  • If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can try baking it like I used to, for example in this recipe.
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Pumpkin Spice Macarons with Pumpkin Cookie Frosting

Fully embracing the pumpkin spice life.

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I don’t know why my macarons look so desaturated here.

One of the trials by fire for a new oven is to make macarons. You get to know your oven intimately – if the oven has hot spots, if the oven is hotter or cooler than the stated temperature, if the oven just straight out hates you…

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I used my new go-to recipe for macarons which I also used in my caramalised honey and osmanthus macarons. Just a solid, consistent French-meringue-style macaron recipe.

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For the filling I adapted Cristina Tosi’s graham biscuit frosting recipe but used Trader Joe’s pumpkin Joe Joes instead, and also threw in some pumpkin butter for some extra fall flavour. I really like this frosting recipe as it gives a flavourful frosting that’s easily customisable with the choice of your biscuit, and also holds up well at room temperature without being too sweet.

Ingredients

Macaron

  • 115g almond flour
  • 230g powdered sugar
  • 144g egg whites
  • 72g sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2g salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • Food colouring (I used a mix of orange and brown)

Pumpkin Cookie Frosting

  • 80g crushed Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe Joes (biscuit only, creme removed)
  • 10g milk powder
  • 15g white sugar
  • 115g butter (85g+30g)
  • 30ml pouring cream/heavy cream
  • 80ml milk
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 2 tsp Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

Method

Macaron

  1. Process almond flour until fine (this step might be optional if your almond flour is fine enough) and sift. Combine with sifted powdered sugar and pumpkin spice.
  2. Combine egg whites and beat until bubbly. Gradually incorporate sugar, vanilla, salt, and food colouring while beating. Whip until stiff.
  3. Dump in dry ingredients at once and fold until the macaron batter flows like lava.
  4. Pipe the batter onto baking paper placed on a baking tray to form 1 inch rounds. You might want to print a template out underneath if, like me, you can’t estimate sizes.
  5. Drop the baking tray from a couple of inches in the air onto the counter to burst air bubbles in the macaron rounds.
  6. Let dry for 30mins, or until the macaron rounds are dry to the touch.
  7. Bake at 150°C for 18 mins, or until you can cleanly peel the baking paper away from the macarons.
  8. Cool on pan before removing.

Pumpkin Cookie Frosting

  1. Toss biscuit crumbs, milk powder, sugar together.
  2. Melt 30g butter and whisk into cream.
  3. Add the butter/cream to the dry ingredients and toss until clusters form.
  4. Transfer to food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 85g butter, light brown sugar, icing sugar, pumpkin spice, pumpkin butter, and salt until fluffy. Scrape down, then with mixer on low speed, add the crumb mixture and beat until the frosting lightens in colour.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to use, let warm to room temperature when ready to use.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you just swap out the biscuit for a biscuit of your choice. I’ve used this recipe with other biscuits before and it’s pretty forgiving, just adjust with butter or icing sugar if the consistency is wrong (the former if the frosting is too stiff, the latter if the frosting is too runny). Also consider the temperature of the frosting. If you live in a warm country, you might want to refrigerate the frosting until it is a pipeable consistency.
  • The source I got the macaron recipe from claims that she didn’t have to let the macarons dry before baking, but I have never succeeded in getting a good batch of macarons without letting them dry first. They just end up cracking with no feet. So I’d really recommend letting them dry before baking. If you live in a humid country (like me when I was in Singapore) you could try being in an air conditioned room with a dehumidifier to speed up the drying.
  • Processing your almond flour helps keep your macaron shells smooth. I find that even the almond flour that’s sold as “fine almond flour” isn’t quite fine enough for macarons, but that could be dependent on brand. Large chunks of almonds could also cause your shells to crack. But yeah I didn’t have a sieve with a fine enough mesh in my current kitchen so the shells ended up a bit bumpy anyway.
  • I always thought that macarons tasted better after a night in the fridge once it’s filled. The shells absorb a bit of the moisture and flavour from the buttercream which makes the whole thing taste better and have a chewier texture. But they taste fine on the day as well.

Toasted Millet Porridge Sourdough

I finally got a Dutch oven, which has made a world of difference.

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Oven spring! And -dare I say- the hints of a ear opening up?

Gone are the days of finessing with a spray bottle like a savage. Now I just have to deal with 5 Seconds of Fear as I carefully lower the sourdough boule into hot cast iron.

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This sourdough is on the moist side since it contains porridge. Millet porridge to be exact, and putting it in bread is about the only time I’ll eat this grain despite its wide and varied purported health benefits. Although apparently millet porridge is a common Chinese dish, which is news to me and makes me question my Chinese heritage.

Toasting the millet gives the bread a nice nutty flavour. Also, millet is gluten-free but what do I care I’m putting it in bread.

I used one of the recipes here.

Ingredients

  • 225g whole wheat flour
  • 225g strong white bread flour
  • 175g toasted millet porridge (75g dry uncooked)
  • 325g + 35g water
  • 75g sourdough starter (mine is at 100% hydration, see notes)
  • 9g salt

Method

Make the porridge (2 days before baking)

  1. In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the 75g of millet until it smells good and you hear the occasional popping sound, stirring constantly. It took me longer than the 2-3 mins stated on the linked recipe.
  2. Transfer the millet to another bowl and add 1 cup of water. Cover and let sit overnight.
  3. Transfer the contents of the bowl to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer for 20 mins.
  4. Bring the saucepan off the heat and leave the lid on for 10 additional mins.
  5. Fluff the porridge and cool.

Make the dough (the day before baking)

  1. Mix the flours and 325g of water. Cover and let the dough autolyse (see notes) for about 2h.
  2. Then, add the starter to the dough and mix using the pincer and fold method. Leave for another 30 mins.
  3. Stretch and fold your dough. Leave for 30 mins.
  4. Dissolve the salt in the remaining 35g of water and add to the dough. Also add the millet porridge. Mix using the pincer and fold method.
  5. Stretch and fold your dough an additional three times, leaving 30 mins before each stretch and fold.
  6. Cover and let the dough rise for an additional 6 hours.
  7. Shape the dough and transfer to a well-floured banneton.
  8. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

Bake the bread

  1. Take the banneton out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for about an hour. Meanwhile, place your dutch oven in the oven (haha) and preheat to 260°C.
  2. After the hour, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Take the dutch oven out of the oven. Carefully place the dough into the dutch oven, and score the dough. Cover and return the dutch oven to the oven.
  3. Bake the bread at 260°C for 30 mins with the lid of the dutch oven on.
  4. After 30 mins, take the lid off and reduce the temperature of the oven to 230°C. Bake for an additional 10 mins.
  5. Remove the dutch oven from the oven, and transfer the bread to a cooling rack.
  6. Let the bread cool for at least 1h before cutting.

Notes

  • My starter was at 100% hydration. This bread was about 80% hydration, although who knows what the real hydration is with the millet porridge. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous recipe on classic white sourdough.
  • Autolysing just means letting your flour sit with the water before you add any salt or yeast. This is supposed to make the bread easier to handle and have better structure and taste since the flour absorbs the water or something. More here.
  • Turning and folding means you don’t knead the dough. It’s just an alternative method to build structure in the dough usually used for higher hydration sourdoughs, but it can be used for any bread really. Up to your personal preference.
  • Scoring helps direct the shape your bread will rise when baked. And it looks pretty.
  • If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can try baking it like I used to, for example in this recipe.

Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Custard Filling

It’s time for some oozy-gooey-flowy matcha.

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Ok so some people seem to get disgusted by the idea of a green sticky filling. Reminds them of snot or something. Well it’s time to open your mind and broaden your horizons because there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore. And some of that world consists of green custard, alright?

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The green custard is restrained by charcoal bread, which colour is more for dramatic effect rather than any health benefits, really. Charcoal powder is used quite commonly in Asian baking. I’ve used it before in my Charcoal Bread with Salted Egg Yolk Filling, but this time I’m going to be using a different recipe which I think yields a softer bun.

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Get some dramatic sunrise lighting on those buns.

Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Filling

If your ability to wrap a filling is better than mine, you’ll probably end up with more custard in your buns. And for those that haven’t eaten matcha before it’s like ground-up green tea, also commonly used in Asian cooking. It kinda has a mildly bitter, earthy taste, but I think it complements sweet things really well.

I used my standard Asian-style bread recipe originally used here, and just adjusted for the charcoal powder. I got the recipe for the filling from here.

Ingredients (makes about 12 buns)

Green Tea Custard

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g flour
  • 10g matcha powder
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 300g bread flour (2 1/2 cup minus about a tbsp)
  • 14g charcoal powder
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 110g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)

Method

Matcha Custard

  1. In a pot, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, flour, and green tea powder.
  2. Add in the milk and set over medium-high heat. Heat until the custard thickens, stirring continuously.
  3. When the custard is thick enough that when you dribble a bit back in the dribble briefly retains its shape, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Divide up the custard into tbsp-sized portions and place on a lined baking sheet (making sure you have at least 12 portions, or however many buns you want to make). Freeze until solid.

Water roux

  1. Mix the water, flour, and salt together in a microwave-proof bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Microwave on high at 15 seconds intervals, whisking the mixture until smooth every time you take the bowl out of the microwave. The mixture is ready when it is thick and leaves behind ribbons.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, charcoal powder, yeast, and sugar. Then add the water roux, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Knock down the bread dough and split the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each dough piece into a ball shape, and roll flat.
  5. Place a tbsp of the frozen matcha custard in the middle of the dough disc, and wrap the dough around the custard well, making sure to seal tightly.
  6. Let the buns rise until doubled in size, about 1.5h.
  7. After doubled in size, brush the tops of the buns with some oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.
  8. Bake at 200ºC for 15-17 mins.

Notes

  • The frozen custard dough will retard the second rise of the dough, take that into consideration when planning the bake.
  • It can be difficult to judge when the bread is done since it is so dark, I just judged it by smell.
  • The times given for proofing the dough are a rough guide, since it is very dependent on temperature. Follow the visual cues (ie doubled in size) rather than the exact timing.
  • You have to use ground up matcha powder don’t use green tea leaves.
  • Make sure to seal the buns well!! The custard is super gooey and will seep out of any holes you’ve missed.
  • Use vanilla essence/extract whichever you prefer.

Chocolate Sourdough with Walnuts and Raisins

My first sweet sourdough!

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I think that this is a bread that will satisfy both those who have a sweet tooth and those who don’t really like sweet things.

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The dough itself is on the bitter side because of the cocoa powder, but this also gives it a rich chocolate flavour. And of course you get the little pools of melted chocolate within which are to die for.

Chocolate Sourdough with Walnuts and Raisins (2)

And then you get the classic chocolate complement of aromatic, crunchy walnuts and plump, sweet raisins just to add a bit of textural variety to the bread.

I also don’t know why my crust looks purple.

Chocolate Sourdough with Walnuts and Raisins (1)

The crumb itself was really soft and moist. The crust is a little on the chewy side though, which was described in the original recipe as well. If you like your crust a little bit more crispy, a good toasting is the solution to all of your life’s problems.

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And when you toast it and add cream cheese? NEXT LEVEL.

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I got the recipe from here, but used my own timings.

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 50g malted milk powder, optional (ie ovaltine, I just thought it’d taste good)
  • 50g sugar
  • 150g sourdough starter (mine was at 100% hydration, see notes)
  • 400g water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8g salt
  • 65g chopped walnuts
  • 65g raisins, soaked in water for at least an hour
  • 150g semi-sweet chocolate chips (see notes)

Method

  1. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar together. Then stir in the sourdough starter, water, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and autolyse for 1h (just let it sit).
  3. When the dough is done autolysing add the salt, chopped walnuts, raisins, and chocolate using the pinch and fold method.
  4. Stretch and fold your dough four times over the next 2 hours (so every 30 mins).
  5. Cover the dough and let rise in the fridge overnight.
  6. In the morning, turn your dough out into a well-floured banneton. Shape your dough by basically pulling the dough from the sides of the ball towards the center.
  7. Cover and let rise for about 2 hours.
  8. 15 mins before baking, preheat your oven to 260°C with a baking tray half-filled with water at the bottom of the oven to create a steam oven.
  9. Tip out your dough onto a lined baking tray. Score your bread if you want with either a bread lame or the sharpest knife in your kitchen.
  10. Place the bread in the steam oven. Mist the oven generously with a spray bottle to generate more steam. Bake at 260°C for 30 mins. Then reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for 20 mins or until done. Bread is done when it is well browned and when you tap it it sounds hollow.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Notes

  • My starter was at 100% hydration. This bread was about 70% hydration. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous recipe on classic white sourdough.
  • I soak raisins beforehand so that they’d remain plump after baking.
  • Use chocolate chips not chopped chocolate. The original recipe source tried using chopped chocolate and it just melted into the dough, so you don’t get the pools of chocolate which is honestly the whole reason why you’re eating this bread in the first place.
  • Autolysing just means letting your flour sit with the water before you add any salt or yeast. This is supposed to make the bread easier to handle and have better structure and taste since the flour absorbs the water or something. More here.
  • Turning and folding means you don’t knead the dough. It’s just an alternative method to build structure in the dough usually used for higher hydration sourdoughs, but it can be used for any bread really. Up to your personal preference.
  • Scoring helps direct the shape your bread will rise when baked. And it looks pretty.