I look forward to pumpkin season all year long. I make cakes, quick breads, cinnamon rolls, candy, and even pasta with my favorite orange ingredient. This year? I’m not feeling it. Oh, I bought some. I even made a cheesecake. Err, tried to make a cheesecake but my leaky springform had other ideas. Other than that I had no interest in pumpkin. And then I thought about bread. Real bread, not a quick bread.
This bread is a focaccia which is a flat bread that’s usually topped with herbs and olive oil. Because I went with pumpkin, I chose different toppings but we can talk about that in a minute. ;) The bread was very simple. The great thing about focaccia dough is that it’s so smooth and no sticky at all which means kneading and shaping is very simple.
As for the toppings, I was recently sent a round of Camembert from the people at Ile de France and it’s been sitting in my fridge waiting for brilliance to strike. This was it. The camembert, despite being all kinds of stinky in my fridge, was actually quite mild and worked perfectly with the pumpkin. (If you don’t want to shell out the cash for Camambert, a gruyere or Swiss would be perfect.) The nuts provided a nice crunch on top of the silky melted cheese.
Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour and butter to yeast mixture; stir just until combined. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 30 minutes.
Add pumpkin, salt, and nutmeg to flour mixture; stir until well combined. Add 2¼ cups flour; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; place dough on a baking sheet or 8 inch cake pans, lined with parchment. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over each round. Rub the oil over the tops and use your fingers to spread the dough out to fit the cake pans or to an 8 inch circle. Sprinkle cheese (don’t try to cut Camembert, just pull pieces off the rind) and nuts evenly over dough circles; press lightly to adhere. Lightly coat dough circles with cooking spray; cover and let rise 20 minutes (dough will not double in size).
Preheat oven to 400F.
Uncover dough; bake at 400F for 30 minutes or until loaves are browned on the bottom and cheese melts (shield loaves with foil to prevent overbrowning, if necessary). Cool on a wire rack.