Due to the nature of slow fermentation, you’ll need to start your bread the day before you want to consume it.
This artisan-style bread is not sweet. It has a lovely savory pumpkin flavor with a hint of pumpkin-pie spices. It’s delicious with cream cheese or butter.
Follow the instructions for making Rustic Country Bread, with the following exceptions:
1. Reserve the pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on the dough right before baking.
2. Combine all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.
3. Mix the pumpkin and water together, then mix into the dry ingredients.
4. Stir until thoroughly mixed, adding a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time if needed, until you have a thoroughly mixed, wet, sticky mass of dough.
5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 12 to 18 hours.
6. After 12 to 18 hours have passed, your dough should be dotted with bubbles and more than doubled in size. Dust a wooden cutting board with bread flour and, using plastic dough scrapers, scrape dough loose from the sides of the bowl and turn out onto the board in one piece. The dough will be loose and sticky, but do not add more flour.
7. Dust the top lightly with flour and cover with a clean lint-free cotton or linen tea towel. Let dough rise for another 1 to 2 hours.
8. About 30 minutes before the second rise is complete, place a cast-iron Dutch oven (a 3 to 4-quart size is best, but larger size can be used) on a rack positioned in the lower third of the oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Once the oven has reached 475 degrees, remove the pot using heavy-duty potholders (be very careful at this stage — the pot and oven are extremely hot). Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon coarse cornmeal evenly over the bottom of the pot.
10. Uncover the dough and, using two plastic dough scrapers, shape dough into a ball by folding it over onto itself a few times. With scrapers, lift dough carefully and let it fall into preheated pot by slowly separating the scrapers. Dust the top of dough with coarse cornmeal. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
11. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the pot and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes, or until loaf is nicely browned. Remove the pot from the oven. With a sturdy wooden or metal spatula, lift the loaf from the pot and transfer to a cooling rack.
12. Do not slice bread for a minimum of 1 hour — this cooling time completes the process and shouldn’t be overlooked!