Pumpkin Pullaparts

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking classes lately—at KitchenArt in West Lafayette, Indiana ; at A Thyme for Everything in Lee’s Summit, Missouri; and at The Bayleaf in Lawrence, Kansas. The classes are so much fun because the people who attend make them fun—they ask questions, get involved as much as they desire, and laugh at all my jokes and stories about “Ou est la guerre?” adventures.

And they’re still amazed that you can make great bread by stirring simple ingredients together in a bowl, putting it on the kitchen counter to rise for 2 hours, then refrigerating or baking with it.

I’m amazed myself that I’m still fiddling with this after my cookbook is already out, but there’s something about this “play dough” that makes you want to come up with new riffs on old favorites.

When I was researching, testing recipes for, and writing Prairie Home Breads a few years ago, I was startled to discover that my maternal great grandfather (my grandpa’s father), Benjamin Vanderhorst, had turned his kitchen into a bakery after he lost his job during the Depression. He made coffee cakes, white bread, and cloverleaf rolls—from a recipe that he got from my maternal great grandmother (my grandma’s mom) Gertrude Willenborg.

I’m adding a new roll recipe for a new generation—these pumpkin pullaparts that are easy to make, beautiful to behold, and delicious to eat. They’re going to feature on our family’s Thanksgiving table this year, and I hope on yours, too.

Of course, even after I developed this recipe, I couldn’t stop fooling around with it.  You make the dough, let it rise, then chill for at least 30 minutes (so this rich dough is easier to roll out).  When you roll the dough out, you can spread it with butter, pumpkin butter, or whatever sounds good to you.  I’ve used canned butternut squash puree in the dough, spread the risen and chilled dough with butter, then sprinkled it with a dried herb mixture for Herbed Squash Rolls.  I’ve also spread the dough with butter and sprinkled it with Parmesan—it’s a wonderful counterpoint to the richness of the dough.
How will you make this recipe your own? 

Pumpkin Pullaparts

This recipe will make enough pullaparts for 24 to 28 people—enough for your Thanksgiving or autumn feast. And the leftovers can go in the freezer for up to 3 months (or make a wonderful bread pudding). The brioche dough, made with the no-knead method, turns even more golden—and a little less rich—when you add cooked, pureed squash or pumpkin. Adapted from my 200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads (Robert Rose, 2009).

Makes rolls to serve 24 to 28 people

For the Dough:
6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting
2 tbsp instant or bread machine yeast
1 ½ tbsp fine kosher salt   
½ cup granulated sugar   
½ cup buttermilk   
1 cup unsalted butter, melted   
8 large eggs, beaten
1 cup cooked/canned, pureed pumpkin or butternut squash
¾ cup lukewarm water, about 100°F (38 °C)   
For the Filling:
8 tbsp    unsalted butter, softened (or 1 cup pumpkin butter)
For the Egg Wash:
1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp (15 mL) water for egg wash

For Baking:   
2 cups    hot water for broiler pan   

1. Measure. Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into a large mixing bowl.

2. Mix. Add the yeast, salt, and sugar to the flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk. Combine the buttermilk and butter and add to the flour mixture, then the eggs. Combine the squash and water and stir into the flour mixture. Beat 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.

3. Rise. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 72°F (22 °C) for 2 hours or until the dough has risen near the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance.

4. Use Right Away or Refrigerate. Use that day or place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking.

5.  Form. To form the pull-aparts, remove half of the dough. Transfer the dough portion to a floured surface and dust very lightly with flour. Flour your hands. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, roll the dough into a 12 by 8-inch (30 by 20 cm) rectangle. For the filling, spread half the filling over the dough with a spatula or knife, leaving a ½-inch (1 cm) perimeter. Starting with a long end, roll the dough into a cylinder with your hands. If the dough begins to stick to the surface, use the dough scraper to push flour under the dough and scrape it up. Gently press and squeeze as you’re rolling to form the dough into a solid cylinder. With a pastry brush, brush off any excess flour. With the dough scraper, slice the cylinder into 1-inch (2 cm) pieces.  Arrange the pieces, vertically—so the filling doesn’t show--in a pinwheel fashion in buttered 8-inch cake pans so that the rolls are almost touching.  Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Mix the egg wash ingredients together and brush over the tops of the rolls.

6. Rest. Cover with a tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.

7. Prepare Oven for Artisan Baking. About 30 minutes before baking, place a broiler pan on the lower shelf and a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200 °C).

8. Slide Baking Pan onto Baking Stone and Add Water to Broiler Pan. Using an oven mitt, carefully pull the middle rack of the oven out several inches. Place the pan of rolls on the hot stone. Pull the lower rack out, pour the hot water into the broiler pan, and push the lower rack back in place. Close the oven door immediately so the steam will envelop the oven.

9. Bake. Bake for 32 to 34 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the rolls registers at least 190°F (90 °C). Cool on a wire rack.

You Can Also Use: Canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), fresh or frozen butternut squash that has been cooked and pureed, frozen or canned sweet potatoes that have been cooked and pureed.