“The dough is so soft, so supple, so sensual that it’s a joy to make this bread. Pumpkin gives it a soft color and super-subtle flavor. It’s a great country bread.”
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 cup warm water (100 degrees F/40 degrees C)
1 tablespoon warm water (100 degrees F/40 degrees C)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tiny pinch pumpkin pie spice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal, or as needed
Place pumpkin puree into a large mixing bowl and whisk in 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water, salt, yeast, and pumpkin pie spice until thoroughly combined. Beat in flour to make a dry crumbly dough. Keep stirring until dough becomes smooth and sticky, 2 to 3 minutes.
Cover bowl with a damp towel and let dough stand 12 to 16 hours to rise.
Generously sprinkle cornmeal onto center area of a baking sheet. Scrape dough out of bowl, using a floured spatula, onto a heavily floured work surface. Dough will be very sticky. Dust dough with flour and gently flatten into an oblong shape. Fold 2 opposite rounded ends together to meet in the center; fold remaining 2 rounded ends to meet in the center, creating a rectangle of dough. Using well-floured hands, gently form into a round loaf with the seams on the bottom. Transfer dough round onto center of prepared baking sheet. Dust top and sides of loaf generously with more flour. Dust a dry towel with flour and place towel with floured side down over loaf. Let rise until loaf has almost doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours. Use a sharp knife to cut a 1/2-inch deep slit across the top of the loaf.
Place a loaf pan containing about 2 inches of water onto a bottom rack of oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Bake on center rack of the preheated oven for 30 minutes; turn bread around in oven. Continue to bake until bread is golden brown and crusty, about 20 more minutes. Let bread cool completely on a rack before slicing.