Some endeavors, no matter how daunting they may seem, just cry out to be undertook. As soon as you hear about it you think "THIS I GOTTA DO!" Even though things could go wrong, and whatever it is you are attempting has caused peril for people you hold dear...the temptation far outweighs the risks. In my life this was true for various body piercings (which I no longer have), for the three tattoos I had, for that one time I went sky coasting
and for this past Saturday night when I made bread from SCRATCH for the first time.
And not just any bread - Pumpkin Walnut Focaccia with Gruyere.
Thanks to Cooking Light, I came across this little seasonally delightful recipe and could not get it out of my head. So what if my last attempt in bread making ended in the dough stage (and practically in tears I might add) when I dropped the horribly sticky ball onto the floor and it became so entangled with a dust bunny that their union could not be torn asunder?
(Yeah I need to sweep more. Whatevs)
This bread contains three things I love in life - Pumpkin, Nuts, and CHEESE!!!! Oh and carbs. Could it be any more perfect? Only if it somehow involved pesto and chocolate but that is an adventure for another time.
So let's get to it.
Cooking Light's Pumpkin Walnut Focaccia with Gruyere
3/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 1/2 cups bread flour, divided (about 15 3/4 ounces)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, divided
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
Look at it bubble up ! (Yeast excites me. Don't judge.)
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour and butter to yeast mixture; stir just until combined.
Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes. ( I turn the oven on to 150 and then shut it off, crack the door for 30 seconds and voila - warm place free from drafts!)
Take this opportunity to get all your other ingredients ready.
Add pumpkin, salt, and nutmeg to flour mixture; stir until well combined. Add 2 1/4 cups flour and half of cheese; stir until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. It will at first be super sticky and this part seems like it lasts forever but just when you think you can't take anymore BOOM you have smooth elastic heaven that doesn't stick to anything. Just be sure and sprinkle some flour on the dough and surface while you're kneading. The recipe said you would only need 1/4 a cup for this, but I ended up using over a cup. I consulted my dad, a break making pro, and he assured me use however much flour you need to keep it from becoming to sticky to knead..just add 1 tablespoon at a time or so.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray or veggie oil, turning to coat top to prevent it from drying out. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts (use that oven trick again!) 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape each half into an 8-inch circle. Place dough circles on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle remaining cheese and nuts evenly over dough circles; press lightly to adhere. Lightly coat dough circles with cooking spray; cover and let rise 20 minutes (dough will not double in size).
It's nice that it makes two loaves because it makes a fabulous gift! Just ask my mom (to whom I gave one on Saturday).
Preheat oven to 400°.
Uncover dough; bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until loaves are browned on the bottom and cheese melts (I would use some aluminum foil to prevent the cheese from browning up like mine did, even though it was still delicious!!). Cool on a wire rack.
Look at that piece of awesomeness! A delightful orange hued bread filled with the smoky taste of Gruyere, the creamy hint of sweetness of pumpkin and crunchy delicious walnuts.
True love, in loaf form.