All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Turmeric Bread

Pumpkin Turmeric Bread

Pumpkins are squash that originated in Central and North America, and were a staple food of the natives.  Since the continent's colonization by Europeans, squash has been widely associated with Thanksgiving.  Of course humans have modified the shape and size and characteristics of squash over the years, with the result that there are now a large variety.  Today, the ordinary jack-o-lantern pumpkin is mostly used for ornamentation, while other pumpkins/squashes are used for seeds, or for pulp that is used in baking or cooking.  But I regularly cook and eat my jack pumpkin too.

The wiki on Pumpkins contains a lot of interesting info about the rapid increase in size of the Giant Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima).  Throughout the 19th century, independent growers competed at harvest festivals to grow the largest pumpkin.  The biggest results had been found using a cross with a Hubbard squash and a kabocha squash to form the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin.  In 1981 Howard Dill of Nova Scotia grew one weighing 493 pounds, and from its seed, today's supergiants weighing as much as 1818 pounds have been grown.

Today's local newspaper had recipes using pumpkins and squashes.  One recipe with an acorn squash (or pepper squash) reported that it is a good source of fibre, magnesium, potassium, beta carotene, and vitamins B and C -- and what really caught my eye -- that one cup provides 340mg of Omega-3 oil.  My eyebrows were raised at that, because most sources of Omega-3s are fish or marine (I have mentioned flax and hemp before in this blog, too).  Furthermore, I had thought most of the oil of squash was in the seed.  But indeed (although it is more likely to be 36mg, a factor of almost 10x less than reported -- you can't believe everything in the newspaper) there are more omega-3s in this squash's flesh than omega-6s, according to Nutrition Facts web site.

How the jack-o-lantern pumpkin compares is anyone's guess, of course.  It has been grown for size, not for omega-3s.  A lot more work is being done on squash these days to get it to increase its beneficial lutein, carotenoids, phenolics, and ascorbic acid, etc.  What the pumpkin will look like in another 100 years is anyone's guess, but it will likely still form a large part of our North American diet (whether fed to humans or animals, who knows).  The amount of calories a squash can provide is enormous -- it does contain a lot of starch.  I think it is a shame to use these foods simply as throw-away seasonal ornaments.  Still, there are significant differences in nutritional qualities between various pumpkin varieties (see, for example,  Gajewski M. et al. (2008) "Quality of Pumpkin Cultivars in Relation to Sensory Characteristics." Not.Bot.Hort.Agrobot.Cluj 36(1). pp. 73-39)

A Korean study of the various nutritional components of various pumpkin species indicates that the flesh of the C. maximus has more of pretty much everything -- but the seeds of the C. pepo species have more oils and amino acids (see: Kim, M. et al. (2012). "Comparison of the chemical compositions and nutritive values of various pumpkin (Cucurbitaceae) species and parts." Nutr Res Pract 6(1). pp. 21-27.)

So I have no difficulty with using ordinary jack-o-lantern pumpkins -- especially those that would otherwise be tossed away after Halloween --  as a food source.

Today's bread
It was just a short leap from my recent turmeric loaf and pumpkin loaf to make this "pumpkin turmeric bread".  They're both orange, right?  But would turmeric and pumpkin taste all right together in a bread?


  • 1000g ww flour
  • 50g wheat germ
  • 200g ww sourdough starter @100% hydration
  • 100g pepitas
  • 33g turmeric
  • 800g pumpkin pulp
  • 50g water
  • 20g salt

One thing I've noticed since fasting 2 days a week: I don't eat as much bread.  I make the loaves as usual, but because I don't eat it for a day, it simply languishes.  By the time of the second fast day in that week, I'm not all the way through the original loaf; and since it is beginning to stale, and I want to bake again, I'm not quite finishing each loaf.  It gets soaked and goes to the chickens, who turn it into eggs.  And we end up giving away a lot of eggs too, to friends and family.

Last time I didn't put the pulp through a blender, and it turned out fine.  I think that this time the loaf was even better, but I didn't increase the hydration by much, if any.  The turmeric has a taste, but it is not unpleasant, and it complements the pumpkin somewhat.  I don't like this bread with jam, but it works with some strong cheeses, and it is fine with honey.

This was a perfectly acceptable bread, but side-by-side on the counter with the recent sesame and dill bread, it wasn't quite as good.  And the colour was a bit off-putting, for some people like my wife.  But as Thanksgiving is upon us, and Halloween approaches, it was a fun bread to make.  The pumpkin seeds added a necessary taste.

I didn't see my friend in time, so I just froze one of these loaves for a later winter treat.  As I did, though, I wondered "Will I ever pull a loaf from the freezer, or do I just keep baking bread because I have fun baking bread?"

I needn't have worried.  I ate the second loaf the very next week, when instead of taking a day to bake bread, I went with some co-workers on a wine tour of Niagara.  The frozen loaf was just as good as the first.

Notes to Myself
  • There is enough pulp in a medium size pumpkin for at least 6 loaves of bread.  I have enough for another couple of breads, if I get to it before it spoils and I have to waste it.  Perhaps we could toss the remainder of the pulp in a soup...

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