Pumpkin Panda Bread

Here is another Panda Bread variation, I tried this one about a year ago and forgot about it: Pumpkin Panda Bread. Pretty much what it sounds like, I used pumpkin purée instead of matcha powder, which might be more to the taste of some of us. Also, it's easier to get. (Not to mention less expensive.)

So, if you have any leftovers (butternut squash would do nicely too!), or want to have a little fun, see what you think!

Confused Panda Bread

First, it's dough as usual.
3 ½ cups bread flour (or all-purpose, if that's what you have)
4 tsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 ¾ tsp yeast
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, melted
½ cup milk, at room temperature
¾ cup water, at room temperature

To colour the dough:
3 tbsp chocolate chips
2 generous tbsp pumpkin purée
pinch each cinnamon and ginger

Mix  all the ingredients except the chocolate, pumpkin and spices together and knead til you get a smooth dough, about 10 minutes. If you want to make it easier if you are kneading by hand, mix everything together until decently combined, then leave it alone for 5 minutes to give the dough a little time to hydrate. When you come back to it, some of your work will already have been done for you. 

 Not quite there yet

Divide your dough into three roughly equal pieces.

Melt the chocolate chips and let them cool a little.
Nope, not melted yet.

In the meantime, knead the pumpkin and spices into one-third of the dough. Not orange enough for your taste? Add a little bit more. Keep going til the pumpkin is evenly distributed.

 Into the bowl!
Could use a little more mixing.

Now, knead those melted and cooled chocolate chips into another third of the dough, again, keep going til the dough is evenly chocolatey.
Also not quite there yet.

Roll all three dough pieces into balls, put them in bowls, cover and let them rise for about an hour, hour and a half, or until close to doubled.
Fun colours.

Then, cut each of the dough balls in half. (In my loaf pans, this recipe makes two loaves.)

For the chocolate dough, cut each half into four pieces, and roll them out into long ropes, about the length of your loaf pan.
 The bits always look so tiny.

Looking a little more reasonable now.

For the plain dough, cut each half into three. One piece should be about the quarter-piece size of the chocolate pieces, for the other two, cut the remaining dough in half. Does that make sense? You are looking for two larger pieces and one piece to tuck between two chocolate pieces to separate the eyess. So, cut one-quarter out of your dough. Then cut the remaining dough into two. Roll the quarter-piece and one of the large pieces into logs the same length as the chocolate pieces.
Roll the remaining plain larger piece into a ball (or a short fat log) and let it rest for a few minutes, to make rolling it out easier.
Cut each half of the pumpkin dough into two pieces - one should be about third of the dough (feel free to play with it, This piece will separate the ears, so roll it into a log about as long as the loaf pan. The other one will cover the whole panda face like a blanket, so roll it into a ball or a short log, and let it rest a bit.

Now the assembly!
Should look something like this. Just orange instead of green bits.

Take the large log-shaped plain piece of dough and place on top of it the smaller log-shaped piece of dough. Now put on either side of this smaller piece two of the chocolate logs.

Now, roll out the remaining plain piece of dough and use it cover the top and sides of this construction. Tuck under any excess if needed.

Put on top of this pile the pumpkin log, and place on either side one each of the remaining chocolate logs. You can squish around the pumpkin log to get different chocolate log placements, for slightly different ear placements. In theory. So far I have found that once in the pan, the dough does what it wants anyway, so results are always a little unpredictable.
Eyes and ears in place!
Now roll out the remaining pumpkin dough. big enough to wrap around the whole panda. Tuck the whole thing in a greased and floured loaf pan, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap (or stick in a food-grade plastic bag).
 The final layer.
All tucked in.

Repeat for loaf number two, and let let them rise another 60-90 minutes, or until the dough reaches the top of the pan.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Turn the loaves out of their pans and onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting into them, if you can. They will be less gummy that way.
Enjoy your silly panda faces!


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