Photography and Recipe by Claudia Anton, The Sugarologist www.thesugarologist.com

Makes one large loaf of bread

Ingredients

For the preferment:

250g white bread making flour
50g white spelt flour
5g fast acting dry yeast (dr. oetker or saf)
200ml lukewarm water

For the dough:

200g organic bread making flour
50g organic white spelt flour
1 teaspoon malted barley flour
1/2 small butternut pumpkin (to make 200g mashed roasted pumpkin)
100ml warm water (28 deg C)
20ml maple syrup
4g (1 scant teaspoon) fast action dry yeast
10g sea salt
1 cup polenta

Method

Start making the bread 12 hours before you plan to bake by preparing the pre-ferment.

For the pre-ferment:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the preferment (flours and yeast) by whisking them together. Make a well in the middle and add the lukewarm water. Use a spatula to gently mix everything together so that the dry ingredients are hydrated.
Move the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, and knead on a medium setting for about 6 minutes. This can also be done by hand, by kneading the mixture on a floured bench for 8-10 minutes or until it is soft and springy. Transfer the dough into an oiled bowl, large enough to hold the dough after it rises. Cover with cling wrap and leave at room temperature for an hour before transferring it to the fridge to up to 12 hours.

The next day –

Take the preferment out of the fridge to rest it at room temperature for an hour.
Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut it into large chunks. Place the pumpkin on an oven tray lined with baking paper, and bake, covered at 180 deg C fan forced, for 30 minutes until soft.
Blitz the pumpkin pieces in a blender or food processor (or using a stick blender) to a smooth puree and cool to warm
Measure out 200g and stir in the maple syrup.

To prepare the final dough:

Preheat the oven to 240 degrees Celsius, fan forced. Place a rack in the top of the oven with an empty baking pan, and either a rack with a baking stone or an upturned baking tray in the lower middle section of the oven.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flours, barley flour, yeast and salt using a whisk until well combined. Make a well in the centre and add the pureed pumpkin, water and pre-ferment.
Using the dough hook of a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients together on low until they are combined, then turn up the speed to medium and mix for six to eight minutes.
The dough needs to be quite soft but springy and able to pass the windowpane test. If it is too sticky, add a little more plain flour. Likewise, if it appears too stiff and dry, add a little more water to the mix at the start.
The dough can also be mixed by hand on a well-floured bench but is quite sticky to work with.
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or cling wrap.
Allow the dough to prove for 1-2 hours in a warm place or until it has doubled in size.
Gently transfer the dough onto a floured bench.
Shape the dough into a batard (loaf). I do this by first flattening the dough slightly to a rectangle. Fold one long side of the dough into the centre, followed by the two shorter sides, then the other long side. Press the dough down into the centre with each fold. The dough is then placed seam side down, stretching the top of the loaf as the seam is rolled toward the bottom.
Prepare a proving basket – I used a large oval basket but a rectangular or large round basket will also work well. Just shape the dough into a boule (or round) if using a round basket.
Sprinkle the basket liberally with polenta and pour the rest onto a sided tray or large shallow dish.
Use a spray bottle to spray a mist of water over the top of the shaped bread, then roll it in polenta before moving it seam side up into the basket. Sprinkle some more polenta on top and along the sides to stop it sticking.
Cover and prove until it has just started to visibly rise to about 1 1/2 times its volume.
Prepare a flat tray with a sheet of baking paper.
Invert the loaf gently onto the tray, supporting it with your hands, and out of the basket.
Quickly use a bakers lame or sharp knife to score a line down the middle of the bread. You can also customise a scoring pattern at will.
Slide the bread onto the hot baking stone or tray. Quickly fill the baking tray on the top rack with a cup of water. Follow this with splashing 1/2 a cup of water into the bottom of the oven a few times during the first 1-2 minutes of baking to really ramp up the steam.
After 5 minutes turn the oven down to 230 deg – 10 minutes, then 220degrees for another 10-15 minutes or until your loaf is golden and crusty.
Remove and allow to cool on a rack before eating with loads of butter.

ENJOY