This beautiful plaited bread is autumn at its finest, with a glossy and slightly chewy amber crust, delicately flavoured with naturally sweet pumpkin, notes of earthy sage and strong salty veins of stilton running through its heart. You won’t be able to wait for this beauty to cool before tearing off a big chunk fresh from the oven.
450g pureed pumpkin (unsweetened tinned is fine)
500g strong white bread flour (i like to use doves farm)
2 tbsp maple syrup
9g fast action yeast
5g fine salt
1 tbsp dried sage.
2-3 tbsp lukewarm water
A drizzle of sunflower oil
1 free range egg yolk (Clarence court are the best for bright orange yolks)
Prep pumpkin into 2” chunks and boil in unsalted water until tender and softened.
Drain and allow to steam and cool. This is important as you don’t want them too wet.
Now using a hand blender or food processor whizz up into a very smooth paste.
Puree weight must be 450g
Add flour to a roomy bowl, salt to one side, yeast to the other then add maple syrup and pumpkin puree.
Bring together using a clawing action to form a soft dough, if the dough is too dry add a couple of tbsp warm water to the dry flour in the bottom and claw together again.
Lightly oil your worktop (never flour it, this dries out your dough and changes the recipe quantities)
Tip out your dough and vigorously knead for 5 minutes, rest for 5 then knead again for another 5 mins.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave for 80mins or until doubled in size.
Tip out your risen dough and flatten into a big square 30 x 30cm. knocking all the air out and cut into 3 equal pieces.
Now crumble a generous line of stilton down the centre of each, sprinkle with sage and pinch together, make sure there are no holes as the molten cheese will leak.
Turn your thoroughly pinched dough sausages over, smooth side up, then pinch all three together at the top.
Carefully plait bringing the outside over the inside strand alternately. Pinch together the end closest to you and tuck under to neaten.
Gently transfer your plait on to greaseproof paper on a large baking tray and place the whole thing in a roomy bag to rise again. (bin bags are great for this!)
I find it useful to put a couple of bottles either side inside the bin bag to create a tent to stop the plastic sticking to the dough.
Now leave to prove (rise) again for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 220c
When the dough is risen and puffy, brush really gently all over with an egg yolk and sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Bake for 20 mins at 220c, your loaf should not only smell amazing but it will be an intense gold colour and sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
Allow to cool on a wire rack and enjoy.
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