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Mrs. Belurgi's Pumpkin Bread

I liked to visit our neighbor Mrs. Belurgi, because there was always something good to eat in her kitchen like her taralli, or hard biscuits, and her pumpkin seed bread, which she made with toasted pumpkin seeds saved from harvested pumpkins. Sometimes she added raw slivers of pumpkin to the dough.

Ingredients

MAKES 1 LARGE LOAF OR 2 SMALLER LOAVES

 

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup hulled pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115F) water

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Filippo Berio olive oil

1 large egg white beaten with 2 teaspoons water for egg wash

Directions

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water and let it proof until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the salt and the remaining 1 cup water and stir to mix. Add the flour about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing it in with your hands, until you have a ball of dough that holds together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead with floured hands until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Grease a large bowl generously with olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and turn to coat it with oil on all sides, cover with a towel and place it in a warm draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 16-inch circle. Brush with a little olive oil and scatter the pumpkin seeds over the dough. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll and fold the roll in half. Knead the dough for 5 minutes; some of the seeds will pop through the surface, which will give the bread a nice look when it is baked.

Form the dough into a large round loaf or 2 smaller loaves. Place on a greased baking sheet and let rise, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Brush the loaf (loaves) with the egg wash. Make a slash about 1/2 inch deep in the top of the dough with scissors or a razor blade. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the bread is nicely browned and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom.

Note: I also like to bake this on a preheated baking stone at 425F., which produces a harder crust.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1991.

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