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Shaker Saffron-Pumpkin Bread

I adapted this from Country Breads of the World by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake (United States: The Lyons Press, 2000). I diverge from the traditional Shaker loaf with the addition of saffron and pumpkin seed topping.

1 C milk
pinch of saffron
4 T butter
1/2 C organic granulated sugar
1 t fine sea salt
2 T active yeast
8 C white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 C pumpkin puree
2 eggs

Heat the milk, butter, and saffron threads until butter is completely melted then remove from heat. Add sugar and salt. Stir well and leave to cool until lukewarm. Add yeast to milk mixture and let sit till bloomed. Stir in pumpkin puree and eggs, mix well. Work in the flour until you have a firm dough that begins to leave the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 7-9 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise till doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

Punch down dough. Place into a large baking bowl, or into two loaf pans. Sprinkle with raw pumpkin seeds and coarse sea salt. Press toppings lightly into the top of the loaf. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, again, approximately 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes until a golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when unmolded and its underside tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack and brush with melted butter. Leave to cool.

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