It’s hard to improve on fluffy, buttery brioche, but recipe developer Erin McDowell is ready for the task. Introducing the only autumnal carb you’ll ever need: pumpkin brioche.
“This bread is made with pureed pumpkin in the dough,” the author of The Fearless Baker tells us, “but it’s still light and fluffy just like brioche normally is, and it’s really golden inside from both the pumpkin and the eggs.” Tasty and beautiful? Check.
“The bread itself is lightly sweet,” she continues, “so I like to put a coarse sanding sugar on the top to bring out that sweetness. But you could also leave it off for a savory dinner bread. And either way, it makes amazing French toast.”
Be right back, we’re whipping up a batch.
2⅔ cups (313g) all-purpose flour
⅓ cup (71g) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons (6g) instant yeast
½ teaspoon (2g) fine sea salt
1 large (56g) egg
1 large (21g) egg yolk
¾ cup (170g) pumpkin puree
¼ cup (57g) whole milk
10 tablespoons (5 ounces/142g) salted butter, at room temperature
Egg wash, as needed (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water)
Turbinado sugar, sanding sugar or pearl sugar, for finishing (optional)
1. Day 1: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt, eggs, pumpkin and milk on low speed until it begins to come together, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl well, raise the speed to medium and mix for about 4 minutes more.
2. With the mixer running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing it to fully incorporate before adding the next. (The whole process should take 2 to 3 minutes.) The dough should be very smooth and it may appear very sticky (that’s OK!).
3. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, then refrigerate overnight. (This not only gives the bread more flavor but also makes it much easier to work with later.)
4. Day 2: The next day, remove the dough from the fridge. Lightly grease a 9-by-4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces and then roll each into a ball on a lightly floured surface (see note).
5. Transfer the dough balls to the prepared pan, arranging them in the base of the pan in two rows of four, then stacking the remaining dough balls on top in the same way. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it reaches ½ inch above the rim of the loaf pan. Because the dough is cold, this can take quite a while, especially if your kitchen is cool, anywhere from 1 hour to 2½ hours.
6. Toward the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the egg wash over the surface of the loaf. If using the sugar, sprinkle it evenly over the surface at this time.
7. Bake the loaf until it is deeply brown (really, really brown—don’t be afraid!) and reaches an internal temperature of 200°F, 30 to 35 minutes.
8. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a rack to cool completely before serving.
Note: To bake the brioche into rolls, divide the dough into 12 balls instead of 16. Instead of transferring to a loaf pan, arrange the balls in three rows of four in a greased 9-by-1-inch pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.