Pumpkin Ginger Braid Bread

Ginger Pumpkin Bread
This bread isn’t nearly as sweet as I thought it was going to be, which actually made me like it better than I thought I would. I was expecting a yeasted version of the traditional pumpkin quick bread, but this loaf was quite different. The texture is light, and the bits of ginger are a surprise–I thought they might cause my kids to not eat it, but they didn’t seem to mind (or maybe didn’t notice?). I really liked this bread, and see it taking a nice role in my fall inventory of great bread for toast, french toast, and afternoon snacks. It might also make an interesting Thanksgiving Day roll! I got the recipe from a King Arthur Flour Magazine (you can also find it on their website). 

Pumpkin Ginger Braid Bread

4 1/2 c. King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves (optional)
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. diced candied ginger
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. instant yeast
1 3/4 c. pumpkin
2 eggs
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/2 c. raisins (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, spices, sugar, ginger, salt and yeast, mixing till everything is well-distributed. In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin, eggs and melted butter till well-combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough with an electric mixer for 2 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until it’s smooth. Add the raisins, and continue kneading just until they’re incorporated.

If you’re kneading by hand, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface; knead it for 3 minutes, allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading till smooth, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Add more flour sparingly, and only if the dough is absolutely impossible to work with by hand. Knead in the raisins right at the end.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours; it should be just about doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it in half then divide each half into three pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch log.

Working with three logs at a time, place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Braid them together; be sure to pinch the ends together well, and tuck them under. Repeat with the remaining logs. Set the braids aside, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap or an acrylic dough-rising cover, to rise for 1 hour; they should look puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk.

Bake the bread in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the braids from oven, and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Serve them warm or at room temperature. If any is left over after a few days, use bread to make bread pudding (recipe follows).Yield: two 10-inch braids.

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