This recipe for pumpkin pull-apart bread is one of my favorite fall baking projects. It has all the flavors that I associate with warmth. Pumpkin, cardamom or cinnamon, vanilla, and maple. I have been making a few versions of savory pull-apart bread for awhile. Every time I bake a loaf of pull-apart bread, I keep thinking about a sweet version, something sticky and gooey and this recipe is it.
Lenny is not a big fan of having sweets around the house and every time I start to bake something a bit devilish, he gives me the old slant eye. Don’t get me wrong, he loves them but that is the problem. I have to hide what I have baked or grab an extra slice for myself as he will devour it in one sitting. Not kidding, I have seen entire baguettes disappear within minutes. He was traveling last week and I knew deep down that he’d appreciate a “treat” when he got home.
So many ideas were swirling through my mind when I started playing with this recipe, besides making the brioche bread pumpkin flavored, there were fillings to decide on. Should the bread be made with more layers of pumpkin filling or maybe try adding pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, or even raisins. Should the spice be cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves? There were too many decisions and instead of going wild, I decided to keep it simple and to give you two options, one with nuts and one without.
Normally, I make my own pumpkin puree, but was limited with time so I used canned unsweetened pumpkin puree. It is just fine. I flavored the dough with the pumpkin as well as cardamom or cinnamon; both are lovely and you can decide which you prefer. There are two filling options, one with nuts and one without. After starting to develop a reaction to nuts, I have been changing up recipes to accommodate both. The nut-based filling has toasted peans, brown sugar, and some butter. The other option is super simple, brown sugar and butter. The cream cheese icing kind of brings it all together. Cream cheese, powdered sugar, and maple syrup. Super simple and definitely a must. It just goes so well with all that this bread offers.
This is such a cozy recipe that all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a couple of slices, a cup of warm coffee, and a good book.
Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (1 envelope)
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom or 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pecan Filling or Sugar Filling
- 3/4 cup toasted pecans – optional
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Maple Cream Cheese Icing
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Making the dough:
- Stir together 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a mixer.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and set aside until 120 – 130 F, about 1 – 2 minutes.
- Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.
- Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the dough attachment.
- With the mixer on low speed, mix for 3 minutes.
- Add the pumpkin, cardamom, and vanilla. Mix well.
- Add one egg, at a time, mixing well after each addition just until incorporated.
- Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 – 45 seconds.
- Add 3 more tablespoons of flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky; about 2 minutes.
- If the dough is still a little loose, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until slightly sticky.
- Sprinkle a work surface with 1 tablespoon flour and center the dough on the flour.
- Knead gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about 1 – 2 minutes, adding an additional 1 – 2 tablespoons flour only if necessary to lessen the stickiness.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 degrees) until doubled in size, about 60 minutes. Gently press the dough, if your finger indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step.
- While the dough is rising make the filling.
Making the filling:
- If you are going to use pecans, then preheat the oven to 400. If you are not using pecans, then skip to step 7.
- Scatter the pecans on a cookie sheet. Slide into the oven.
- Bake for 5 minutes.
- Stir and continue baking for 3 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cover with a clean dishtowel.
- Lightly break apart the pecans.
- In a small mixing bowl mix together the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Melt the other 2 tablespoons for the assembly of the bread. After mixing together the butter and brown sugar add the pecans if you are using.
- Set aside.
Putting it all together:
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350.
- Lightly butter a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan.
- Gently deflate the dough using your hands.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle.
- Using a pastry brush spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the dough.
- Cut the dough crosswise into 5 equal strips. I use a pastry cutter.
- Evenly distribute the filling mixture over the slices of dough.
- Gently stack the strips on top of each other until you have a stack of 5 rectangles.
- Using a very sharp knife, slice the stack crosswise through the layers to create 6 equal strips, about 4 by 2 inches.
- Fit the layered strips into the loaf pan, cut edges up and side by side. There will be plenty of space on either side of the strips, that is fine because space will fill up with rising and baking.
- Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 degrees) until puffy and almost doubled in size, about 30 – 40 minutes. I start looking at 15 minutes.
- Lightly press the dough with a fingertip to check for that indentation. Do not let the dough overproof or it falls apart when baking.
- Place the loaf pan onto a cookie sheet. Bake the bread for 30 – 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
- While the bread is baking make the icing.
- Transfer the baked bread to a wire baking rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the pan onto a serving board and smear with the icing.
Making the icing:
- Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Beat until light and fluffily at medium speed for 2 minutes.