Yeasted pumpkin bread enriched with eggs and butter. This pumpkin brioche recipe is simple, straightforward, yields a buttery and soft bread that tastes of pumpkin and has the most tender crumb. The dough can be made for sweet or savory meals.
This started out as a very different project. I really wanted to bring you a pumpkin spice cruffin. Kind of like these morning buns but you know, fall inspired. Instead I found myself in hand with the best brioche I’d ever made… and it was PUMPKIN!! So, instead of proceeding to keep testing the dough with lamination, I said, this needs to be appreciated for what it is: an absolutely beautiful, easy-to-make, easy-to-work-with dough that made a text-book brioche perfect bread.
And the beauty of it is that you can make a loaf, or buns, or rolls, or maybe you’ll swirl in some pumpkin spice a la trader joes pumpkin brioche twist bread!
Yeast: active dry yeast. If you only have rapid rise yeast you can use it but reduce it by half a teaspoon.
Milk: Whole milk or 2%. You can use water instead but the bread will lose some of it’s richness and tenderness.
Pumpkin puree: I used canned pumpkin puree. If you are making your own just be sure it isn’t overly watery and you’re capturing enough of the ‘meaty’ pumpkin flesh.
Sugar: Brown sugar, light or dark. If you are making a savory bread you might think to reduce the sugar in the dough but it’s best left in as it helps with hydration and contributes to the softness.
Salt: Fine sea salt. If using table salt, use half the amount.
Eggs: Whole large eggs. This bread cannot be made eggless.
Flour: All purpose flour, but importantly: not a low protein flour. I used king arthur’s AP which is 11.7%. If you don’t have it, look for a bread flour. Don’t use anything less than that as the flour won’t have enough protein to help develop the structure and gluten of the bread.
Butter: Salted or unsalted, but if using salted use less added salt to the dough. The butter should be at room temperature, soft enough to press and indent.
First, let’s have that butter softening on the counter for awhile so it’s room temperature by the time we need to add it to the dough. It shouldn’t be melted or even melty, but soft enough that when you press it will easily leave an indentation.
Once the butter is soft, you can start making the dough.
Set the yeast in the bottom of the stand mixer and then pour the milk over it. It’s not much milk but stir the yeast into it best you can then leave it for a minute. This helps the yeast begin to dissolve and activate.
Then add the pumpkin puree and stir.
Next add the sugar and eggs and stir enough to break up the eggs.
Now measure out the flour: if you aren’t using a scale, use a fork to fluff up the flour then using another measuring cup shake it over the cup you’re using to measure and level it. This will ensure you don’t get too much flour in the cup.
Add it and the salt straight to the bowl. If you wanted to add vanilla you can do so now.
Now affix the dough hook and turn the mixer on medium low. The dough will start to come together but look quite rough. Once it looks well mixed (usually after about 3-5 minutes of kneading), you can start to add the butter.
Slice up the butter into 1 tablespoons. Add each slice one at a time, giving the dough enough time to work though (or nearly work through) each slice of butter.
Once all the butter is in the dough is going to look very wet and sticky. By adding all the butter we just broke down the dough’s structure (gluten) and now we have to work it back in.
Slowly the dough will start to come together around the dough hook. You’ll see it clear the bottom of the bowl first. You can use a rubber spatula to scrape up the sides and add them to the dough in the center. Keep kneading.
Stop kneading when the bowl is clear and the dough is shiny, tacky and in one large lump. Usually this takes about 10 minutes total, but more if you’re kneading on low or if you’ve doubled the recipe.
When I’ve doubled this recipe it took me a good 20 minutes to reach this stage.
Good bread structure comes from gluten development, a factor that is hindered by fat. We’re adding both eggs and butter to the dough which are going to stall the dough. This is why we’ll add more yeast than usual and why we’re kneading the dough for so long.
If you’re making the recipe as is below, a stand mixer on medium speed should be able to knead it in about 10 minutes (after all the butter is added). If you are doubling it, the mixer will take 20 minutes or possibly more.
When you start adding the butter, the dough kind of behaves like a meringue buttercream: it gets wet, shapeless and sticky. As you add the butter the dough will look more and more like this. Once all the butter is in it’s at it’s most alarming: it almost looks like a batter, completely stuck to the sides of the bowl.
But keep on kneading the dough and look for signs the dough is changing. In the video you’ll notice that the bowl gets cleaner and clearer as you knead. The dough itself will look ‘shiny’ and be tacky (when you press it it doesn’t stick to your finger).
You can knead brioche by hand but, it is very difficult and will require a lot of patience and muscle! I would knead all the ingredients together in a bowl first, then
Prepare the dough as instructed below. Once the first rise has completed, portion the dough into 50g a piece.
Oil a 9×9″ baking pan. Pull the dough around itself to make a ball and roll each dough portion between your palms or between your palm and the counter to make a tight ball. Set the balls in the prepared pan leaving a 1 inch gap on each side (room for them to proof and bake!).
Let the rolls rise for about 45-60 minutes, until they are puffy and leave a small indentation when pressed (the dough shouldn’t bounce back immediately). Brush the dough with heavy cream, milk, egg white or a mix of egg yolk and water.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and bake the rolls for about 20-30 minutes, until golden brown on top.
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