Pumpkin spelt bread with cultured tarragon butter is tasty and fortunately very forgiving. Twice now I have missed a step and added it the day after without serious effects. That and it does not require any kneading. Would you believe it was exactly the same mistake twice both this and the last time I made it?
Its is my kind of bread for so many reasons. It should be your kind of bread too. A slab of this pumpkin spelt bread slathered in some home-made cultured tarragon butter still warm out of the oven is divine!
Butternut pumpkins are my preferred choice for this recipe. Butternut is actually a squash, so it is not technically a pumpkin (as it was pointed out to me recently, thanks Kat!). It tends to have a higher water content so is great for mashing and using in batter or dough recipes. Compared to their firmer cousins such as a Kent, which are firmer when baked and are more suitable for salads or situations where the pieces are kept whole.
They also have thinner skin and because of this are easier to cut. No more needing to worry about lopping off a finger accidentally while you fight to remove the skin. Simply cut it in half long ways, scoop out the seeds and turn face-down on the chopping board. Cut into 2cm pieces, then turn them on their sides and take of the skin in 3-4 slices per piece. You might feel this is a bit excessive and prefer to peel it top down while still whole. I like my fingers and its quick enough. This way suits me fine.
You need to plan ahead as both the cultured butter and the ‘no knead’ dough require overnight resting. So its set and forget kind of thing, which I like. Just bake off the pumpkin, mash it and throw it in a bowl with your spelt, yeast and some water then throw it all in the fridge until you are ready to bake it the next day.
For the butter, mix the kefir and cream and then cover with wrap and set aside overnight to ferment. You need very little time the day before – and little time the next day before you are rewarded with a crusty hot loaf of pumpkin spelt bread. Winner!
The use of spelt flour instead of white plain flour gives the bread a lovely light nutty flavour and a dense texture. Sadly for those of you who are Coeliac’s or that have a wheat protein intolerance, this is not one for you. Spelt is from the wheat family and while it has less wheat, it is not entirely gluten/wheat free. Whilst it doesn’t contain wheat as an ingredient, being from the wheat family it has the same proteins that are inclined to cause a flare or sore tummy.
Any packets that claim they are gluten free are fibbing, though they will claim they are wheat free. While they aren’t wrong, the packaging is misleading. I will experiment with some gluten free for this loaf sometime in the future as it is quite yummy. It does provide a solution to people with very mild intolerance or with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) who can handle small amounts of wheat protein and gluten.
The yield is one large loaf and goes a long way serves wise. I am partial to eating chunks of this with the cultured tarragon butter while pottering around the house, though I have found many other yummy uses for it:
- As a sandwich bread, thinly sliced. Particularly good with some fresh apple slices and the cultured tarragon butter;
- Thick slabs still warm from the oven served with soup or to sop up gravy;
- Fill with your favourite kinds of cheese, butter the outside and toast in a jaffle maker;
- Toasted with your favourite jam; and
- You can slice up any stale bread into chunks, toss in a little oil and roast in the oven for some lovely croutons for a salad or blitz it in a blender to make a breadcrumb and coat some chicken pieces for an interesting schnitzel.
Two things are important to note, firstly, don’t skip the semolina in the base of the pan or on top. It really does help give it a firm crunchy golden crust. Secondly, ensure your cast iron casserole pan has been well preheated, with the lid on. That means, preheat your oven for at least 15 minutes to bring it to temperature before putting the pan in the oven to then preheat the pan. You will thank me for this later (no sweaty soggy bread bum!).
For the cultured butter, the original recipe suggested it would take 8 mins of whisking before it would separate in the second series of whisking, mine took only 2 minutes. This was likely because I left the cream/kefir mix to ferment overnight and all of the next daytime. Just go with texture and sight and try not to worry about time too much. I enjoyed my butter, so, much like the dough, the recipe for the butter and its timing are pretty forgiving.
Do not skip covering the finished butter with the baking paper, cling wrap and then aluminium foil. All are important, the baking paper because butter sticks to anything else. The cling wrap to keep the air out, and, the aluminium foil to keep the light out to keep the butter from oxidizing and will prolong its fridge life.
When you finish making the cultured tarragon butter, you will be left with just over 250mls of buttermilk. My suggestions on how to use the buttermilk include:
- Bake some Irish soda bread. Find the recipe for Irish soda bread here.
- Make the family fluffy Buttermilk pancakes; or
- Create a dreamy, creamy salad dressing (i.e. for coleslaw);
Pumpkin Spelt Bread and Cultured Tarragon Butter
Pumpkin Spelt Bread
600g pumpkin, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried instant yeast
750g white spelt flour
1 teaspoon salt
125mls water (for steaming pumpkin while baking)
250mls water (for dough)
The day before:
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper. Allow the sides to overhang a little to contain the cooking juices.
2. Mix pumpkin pieces in a bowl with olive oil and fennel seeds. Spread pumpkin evenly over baking tray, add 125mls water and cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, increase heat to 220°C and bake until caramelised (around 15 minutes).
3. Mash cooked pumpkin with a fork. Cool completely.
4. Mix mashed pumpkin with flour, 250mls water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover with cling wrap and place in fridge overnight.
The next day:
5. Preheat oven to 220°C for 15 minutes. Place cast iron pan with lid on into the oven to preheat for 30 minutes.
6. Dust bench with half the semolina. Turn out pumpkin dough mix and form into a ball. Remove pan from oven, be careful it will be very hot.
7. Sprinkle the pan base with 20g semolina, place the dough ball into the pan and dust with the rest of the semolina. Score the dough a few times with a sharp knife (be careful not to touch the pan with your hands/fingers!). Place lid on pan and return to oven.
8. Bake for 1 hour.
9. Reduce heat to 200°C, remove lid and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Remove from pan and cool for a further 10 minutes.
Enjoy slathered with cultured tarragon butter (recipe below)
Pumpkin Spelt Bread
Hot, crusty, no knead pumpkin spelt bread.
- 600g pumpkin, chopped into 2cm pieces
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried instant yeast
- 750g white spelt flour
- 180g semolina
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 125mls water (for steaming pumpkin while baking)
- 250mls water (for dough)
- Step 1 The day before: Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper. Allow the sides to overhang a little to contain the cooking juices.
- Step 2 Mix pumpkin pieces in a bowl with olive oil and fennel seeds. Spread pumpkin evenly over baking tray, add 125mls water and cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, increase heat to 220°C and bake until caramelised (around 15 minutes).
- Step 3 Mash cooked pumpkin with a fork. Cool completely.
- Step 4 Mix mashed pumpkin with flour, 250mls water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover with cling wrap and place in fridge overnight.
- Step 5 The next day: Preheat oven to 220°C for 15 minutes. Place cast iron pan with lid on into the oven to preheat for 30 minutes.
- Step 6 Dust bench with half the semolina. Turn out pumpkin dough mix and form into a ball. Remove pan from oven, be careful it will be very hot.
- Step 7 Sprinkle the pan base with 20g semolina, place the dough ball into the pan and dust with the rest of the semolina. Score the dough a few times with a sharp knife (be careful not to touch the pan with your hands/fingers!). Place lid on pan and return to oven.
- Step 8 Bake for 1 hour.
- Step 9 Reduce heat to 200°C, remove lid and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Remove from pan and cool for a further 10 minutes.
Cultured Tarragon Butter
600ml pure (thin) cream
2 1/2 tablespoons kefir or greek-style yoghurt
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Iced water (for rinsing)
The day before:
1. In a bowl, mix cream and kefir together. Cover with cling wrap and set aside on your kitchen bench at room temperature to ferment.
The next day:
2. Whisk cream until the mixture splits. Turn down the speed to low, continue to whisk on low speed until buttermilk splits out and you have a clear separation of buttermilk and butter. The butter will resemble popcorn (see picture).
3. Strain the buttermilk off using a colander and reserve to use for other purposes. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
4. Rinse the butter while in the colander using iced water. Drain well and then squeeze the excess liquid out using your hands.
5. Prepare one sheet of baking paper, one of cling wrap and one of aluminium foil. Spread butter across a plate, sprinkle with chopped tarragon and salt.
6. Form into a ball, wrap in the baking paper, then firmly wrap in cling wrap and then the aluminium foil. Stored correctly, it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Recipe adapted from: Samantha Coutts No-Knead Spelt & Pumpkin Bread, Delicious Magazine Australia, May 2016, View the original version here