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Thanksgiving Cranberry-Pumpkin Yeast Bread

When you think of pumpkin bread, you probably think of a quick bread--soft, moist, and sweet. Nonetheless, sometimes you want a bread that's yeasty and uses far less sugar--something you could serve with soup or alongside dinner rather than with tea or as a dessert. Enter Cranberry-Pumpkin Yeast Bread. It has moistness and flavor from the pumpkin and sweetness from dried cranberries and spices, but it isn't really a sweet bread. Yes, the Cranberry-Pumpkin bread would be great for breakfast, smeared with a bit of butter or light cream cheese. Nonetheless, the bread would be equally at home beside a big bowl of soup, a hunk of cheese, some fruit, or a savory dinner. Topped with pumpkin seeds and baked in an oval, the bread would look beautiful on your Thanksgiving table. In fact, I suggest making a loaf now (you need to test it!) and another loaf for Thanksgiving. Yes, you can make the bread ahead and freeze it, if you'd like. Just wrap the bread well before freezing it and remember to let the bread thaw on the counter before reheating the loaf in foil. Oh, and if you can't wait to cut into the bread just after baking it, it will be okay, but a bit smooshy. Better to let the loaf cool completely on the counter before cutting into it for a smooth cut. But, who am I to judge (see the last photo!)? Warm bread, slathered with a bit of butter and maybe some honey??? Yummm.

Cranberry-Pumpkin Yeast Bread

Cranberry-Pumpkin Yeast Bread -- Makes 1 Loaf

1 cup of low-fat milk

2/3 cup of pumpkin puree

1 1/2 cups of flour, divided

1/4 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of canola oil

1/4 ounce of yeast

2 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

1 cup of dried cranberries

1/4 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds (hulled)

In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute (until very hot). Whisk in the pumpkin puree, then 1 cup of the flour. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar and canola oil. Whisk in the yeast until it dissolves. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, coat a medium oval casserole or baking dish (about 2 quarts) with non-stick cooking spray and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Once the dough has about doubled in volume, with a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Then add 2 cups of the white whole wheat flour and the salt. Stir with the spoon as long as you can, then use your hands to knead the dough in the bowl for 4-5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of white whole wheat flour gradually. Knead in the dried cranberries until they're well distributed in the dough. Shape the dough into a rough oval and put it in the prepared baking dish. Wet your hands with water to smooth the dough, then press the pumpkin seeds into the top of the dough. Put the dough into the oven at 400 degrees and then turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Let the bread cool in the baking dish for 10 minutes before removing it to cool completely.

Cranberry-Pumpkin Yeast Bread

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