Going Wild with Pumpkin Cornmeal Rolls (BBB October 2017)

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BBB October 2017 summary: Pumpkin Cornmeal Rolls; making adjustments to the recipe; using wild yeast instead of commercial; a Bread Baking Babes project; World Bread Day and World Food Day;

BBB October 2017 Bread Baking Babes (BBB) October 2017: Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread

I just can’t stop using our Jane Mason Starter!

This October has been strange – so warm that it’s difficult to believe I have to think seriously about rescuing the potted plants (bay tree, rosemary, etc.) and hauling them back into the jail of closed doors and windows.

But the vegetable markets are confirming that it is indeed autumn. There are pumpkins and winter squashes galore, lining the walkways and makeshift tables and shelves outside of every shop.

How perfect for this month’s BBB bread that calls for pureed pumpkin!

But there’s no way that I’m going to buy tinned pumpkin! Who knows what’s in those tins??

Pumpkin puree: You know, the canned orange stuff that’s lining the supermarket walls right now? The stuff you use to make all your favorite fall desserts that’s labeled “100% pumpkin”?! Yes, well, it’s actually made from 100% not pumpkin. The mix is made from a variety of winter squash (think butternut, Golden Delicious, Hubbard, and more). […] [T]he USDA is fairly lenient with gourd terminology in general, which is why it’s perfectly legal to label a food product as “pumpkin” when, in reality, it’s made from a different variety of squash.
Emma Crist, I Just Found Out Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Pumpkin At All, Food&Wine, 23 September 23 2016

Here’s how this month’s BBB bread making went:

BBB Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread diary:

4 September 2017, 17:41 What an excellent choice of bread for October!

22 September 2017, 01:23 There was a question from BBBabes in Europe about exactly what cornmeal is, whether it was cornflour, cornstarch, polenta…. (Sometimes we North Americans forget that corn is not necessarily a staple human food item. One of our French friends refused to try corn on the cob when he was visiting; he said he would not eat food designed for livestock.)

The cornmeal we use is considerably coarser than corn flour. It’s quite gritty – and is the texture of fine sand as opposed to Corn flour, which is very smooth and has the texture of baking soda. But experts are much better at describing it:

[Cornmeal is] dried and ground corn, ranging in texture from fine to coarse. Most commercial cornmeal is made from either yellow or white dent corn and milled via steel rollers, which gives it a uniform texture. It’s also degerminated, meaning the nutritious, oily germ and bran are removed in processing. This makes it shelf stable. Stone-ground cornmeal, which will be labeled as such, is coarser because of how it’s milled, and the germ and bran are left in. How can you know for sure? Look for “whole grain” on the label. It’s more perishable than regular cornmeal.
-Janet Rausa Fuller, epicurious | The Difference Between Cornmeal, Corn Flour, Polenta, and Grits https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/difference-between-cornmeal-corn-flour-polenta-grits-article

5 October 2017, 08:11 It’s Thanksgiving this weekend (already?!) and I’m thinking I should make these pumpkin rolls. I’m wondering about using wild yeast instead of the colossal amount of commercial yeast called for – 1 ½ tablespoons for 24 rolls! (I wonder if this recipe is quite old. There isn’t THAT much molasses in it that would interfere with the yeast activity, is there?)

I love the smell of the wild yeast so much more than the smell of commercial yeast. Not to mention that the bread we’ve been making seems so less likely to go stale. And it’s not because we’re eating it all up in one go….

Genuine sourdough bread should take longer to go stale, and has some health benefits. Lactic acids make the vitamins and minerals in the flour more available to the body. The acids slow down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood-stream and lower the bread’s glycaemic index. They also make the gluten in flour more digestible. Sourdough bread also contains higher levels of folate and antioxidants than other breads.
BT, What is sourdough, and why should you eat sourdough bread?

Because I’m thinking I want to serve these as dinner rolls, I suspect I’ll omit the pinch of sugar entirely AND reduce the amount of molasses. I’m also about adding some pepitas…. I saw Mary Ann Esposito on the PBS cooking show Ciao Italia making her neighbour’s pumpkin bread – Mary Ann Esposito put in zero sugar, and added pepitas and slivered raw pumpkin. (She also added a colossal amount of yeast)

Okay… Here is what I imagine will work. What do you think? Have I reduced the molasses too much? Will I need to add more water?

Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread
Yield: 2 or 3 loaves or 24 dinner rolls
170g wild starter (wheat at 100% hydration)
155g warm water
240g warm buttermilk
70g melted butter
50g light molasses
123g pumpkin purée
122g cornmeal
102g rye flour
475g to 500g unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
18g salt (15.68g is 2% baker’s percentage)
pepitas, for topping

And might this be too much salt? If the cornmeal is considered “flour” then 2% Baker’s Percentage would be 16g for the salt (I’m using 575g for the allpurpose flour amount. If the cornmeal ISN’T part of the flour than 2% would be 13.5g for the salt.) What to do. What to do….

6 October 2017, 13:02 We got a beautiful butternut squash at the vegetable store and baked it. It’s unbelievably sweet. T is going to puree it to make pie for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll use some of it in the BBB bread and we’ll reheat the rest to have with tonight’s dinner. J’adore baked squash!!

23:38 Going ahead with my plan, I took our alarmingly separated into alcohol starter from the fridge, stirred it and then removed a spoonful into a bowl. I stirred in 100gm whole wheat flour and 100gm water then put all but 170gm back into the Mason Jar in the fridge. I covered the 170gm in the bowl with a plate, put it into the oven with only the light turned on, crossed my fingers and climbed upstairs to bed. Night Night!

7 October 2017, 08:27 It floats! It floats! But. We hadn’t had our morning coffee yet. No problem. I am the boss of these rolls, so I added a little more flour and water, covered the bowl with a plate and we headed out to the front porch to eat toast and cheese and drink coffee in the beautiful morning air.

10:14 After breakfast, I was happy to note that the starter floated again, and went ahead to mix the dough. Lovely! A little sticky, but lovely. As I was mixing it, I realized that I hadn’t set aside quite enough squash for the rolls. So [sshhhhh!! Don't tell T!] I stole some of the squash set aside for the pie.

BBB October 2017 As I mixed the squash in, it occurred to me that ground pepper would be an excellent addition. So I ground some in, mixed it, and ground in a little more. Because if some pepper is good, more must be better. :-)

14:29 Shaping the rolls went insanely smoothly. I’m starting to worry that nothing has gone wrong yet.
I dipped each just shaped roll into a bowl of water and then lightly pressed it onto a plate of pepitas before arranging all of them in a spring-form pan lined with parchment paper.

BBB October 2017

I covered the pan with a tea towel and put it into a large plastic grocery bag and left the rolls on the counter.

15:48 The rolls are in the fridge now to languish there overnight.

BBB October 2017 8 October 2017, 08:01 Wow! They rose beautifully in the fridge! But they’re still really cold, so we’ve decided to have coffee and a half a piece of toast first before turning the oven on.

Ha! I like to show these rolls who is the boss!

08:49 After preheating to 400F, into the oven they went! Because of the molasses in the dough, I immediately turned the heat down to 375F.

We’ve had such success with baking bread with a hat, I decided to put the upside down stainless steel bowl over top. Alas, because of the baking stone on the rack, the stainless steel bowl didn’t fit.

I KNEW something had to go wrong! I switched to covering the rolls with a pizza pan.

Twenty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 375°, using a baking stone, if you wish. While the oven is heating, brush the tops with melted butter.
Bake in the center of the preheated oven until golden brown: 40-45 minutes for loaves or 15 to 18 minutes for rolls. Remove from oven, let cool on rack until completely cool.
BBB October 2017 recipe

Ooops! How did I miss seeing “brush the tops with melted butter”? :stomp:

09:18 After 15 minutes baking with the pizza pan in place, I took the hat off, turned the oven down to 350F and baked the rolls for 20 minutes more.

They have a beautiful spicy aroma! And they look gorgeous.

BBB October 2017

We opened them up to taste them. Look how happy this roll looks!

These buns worked fabulously. But I think next time, I’d use less molasses – not that the molasses was wrong, it just overpowered any of the flavour from the butternut squash.

We served them warm (shhhhh!! don’t tell anyone that we didn’t let them cool completely!) with spiced orange butter (that’s what those flower shaped things on the plate are), made from a recipe in Jamie Schler’s cookbook “Orange Appeal”.

Thank you, Judy!

Here is the BBB October 2017 Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread recipe we were given. And here is what I did to it to make half the recipe:

BBB Wild Pumpkin Cornmeal Rolls
based on a recipe in “Bread for All Seasons” by Beth Hensperger

makes twelve rolls

Levain ¹

  • spoonful of bubbling Mason wheat wild yeast starter from fridge
  • 45g water, at room temperature
  • 45g 100% whole wheat flour


  • 77g water at body temperature
  • 85g levain from above (100% whole wheat at 100% hydration) ¹ (stir any excess into the wild starter in the fridge)
  • pinch sugar²
  • 35g butter (the BBB recipe calls for melted butter or oil) ³
  • 120g warm buttermilk
       » 80g boiling water
       » 40g plain yoghurt ³
  • 25g blackstrap molasses ²
  • 61g pumpkin purée (I used oven-roasted butternut squash)
  • 352g Flours and Cornmeal 4
       » 61g cornmeal (I used medium grind yellow cornmeal)
       » 51g rye flour (I used dark rye flour)
       » 250g unbleached all-purpose “no additives” flour
  • ~1g pepper (several grinds)
  • 8g salt (2% baker’s percentage 7.88g) 5

Topping (optional)

  • small bowl of water
  • pepitas
  1. levain: Late in the evening before you will be mixing the actual bread dough: Stir the levain ingredients together in a smallish bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on.
  2. Early in the morning of the day you will be baking the bread: Take a small spoonful of the levain and see if it floats in a bowl of lukewarm water. If it is bubbly but the little amount sinks like a stone, stir in 10g whole wheat flour and 10g room temperature water. Cover with a plate and put the bowl back into the oven with only the light turned on. About 30 minutes later, check to see if the mixture floats. It probably will. Proceed with making the actual dough.
  3. dough: Pour body-temperature water (let’s say that you remember that I’ve gone on and on endlessly about heating the water in a kettle because you should NEVER use water from the hot water tap…) into a medium-sized bowl. Add the levain and set aside briefly.
  4. Cut the butter into little pieces and put them into the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Pour boiling water overtop, stirring to melt the butter. Stir in the yoghurt, blackstrap molasses, and puréed squash.
  5. Dump the the cornmeal, flours, and salt overtop. Pour in the levain and water. Stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until all the flour is mixed in.
  6. kneading: Using one hand to turn the bowl and the other to dig down to the bottom to lift the dough up to the top, turn, fold, turn, fold, etc. the dough until it is smoothish and no longer looking like porridge. As you knead, resist all temptation to add more flour. Cover the bowl with a plate and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Turn and fold the dough 5 or 6 times, stretching it (without breaking it) as you go. Cover the bowl with a plate and allow the dough to rest another 30 minutes.
  8. Repeat the folding and turning step three or four times in all, leaving 20 to 30 minutes between each turning.
  9. shaping and topping: Line a spring-form pan with parchment paper. Pour a single layer of pepitas onto a small plate. Turn the dough out onto a board that is very lightly dusted with all-purpose flour. Divide it evenly into 12 pieces. Cover all but one piece with a tea towel and shape it into a ball. Holding it at the seam between your thumb and index finger, dip the ball into a small bowl of water. Lightly press the ball onto the pepitas to cover the top of the ball with pepitas. Put the ball, seam side down into the center of the springform pan. Continue shaping and topping each ball, placing it next to and/or around the previously shaped ball. Leave space between each ball. Cover the pan with a tea towel followed by a large plastic grocery bag. Leave it in the oven with only the light turned on for about an hour. Then put it into the fridge overnight.
  10. baking: The following morning, the rolls should have doubled. With the bread stone on the middle rack, preheat the oven to 400F. Cover the spring-form pan with a pizza pan – to create a steam chamber – and put the rolls in the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 375F and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pizza pan cover, turn the oven down to 350F and bake for about 20 minutes more until the rolls are golden brown.
  11. When the rolls are done, release them from the spring form pan and place them (without separating them) on a footed rack to cool completely; the bread is still baking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm rolls (of course you do), reheat them after they have cooled completely. To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.


1.) levain: The full BBB recipe calls for “1 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast (1 ½ packets)”. That’s 18 grams!! It seems excessive. I think I’d be more inclined to use just 7 grams if I were using yeast. But, of course, I wanted to use my Jane Mason starter…. (For more information, please see Converting a Recipe Calling for Yeast to Use Wild Yeast)

2.) sugar and molasses: The full BBB recipe calls for a “pinch of sugar” and “1/3 cup [112g] light molasses”. I have a feeling that the pinch of sugar is there to help activate the commercial yeast (not that it’s necessary, but lots of older recipes call for a pinch of sugar) so I omitted it. I also thought the amount of molasses was on the high side for dinner rolls. So I reduced it. Because we always have blackstrap molasses on hand, I used that. In retrospect, I think honey or maple syrup would have been better substitutes and closer in character to “light molasses”. Next time….

3.) butter, buttermilk, yoghurt: The BBB recipe calls for “melted butter” and “warm buttermilk”. We didn’t have any buttermilk but we did have beautiful plain yoghurt that I decided to thin out with water. It seems like too much trouble to a.) melt the butter and b.) heat the yoghurt/water, so instead, I cut up cold butter from the fridge and poured almost boiling water overtop. The melting butter cooled the very hot water. Stirring in cold yoghurt from the fridge cooled it down more. Much easier!

4.) flour The full BBB recipe calls for “1 cup [122g] fine- or medium-grind yellow cornmeal, 1 cup [102g] medium rye flour, 4 ½ to 4 ¾ cups [562g to 594g] unbleached all-purpose or bread flour”. Because of altering the recipe to one using a wild starter (requiring feeding of flour to build it up), the flour amounts had to be adjusted.

5.) salt The full BBB recipe calls for “1 tablespoon salt”. (Don’t get me started on the fact that there is no weight measurement for the salt!) Because this recipe seems on the older side, I’m assuming that “salt” means “table salt”, which weighs 6g/tsp. So, a tablespoon of salt would be a baker’s percentage of 2.25%. It seems high. So I lowered it.

Salt affects dough texture, making it stronger and less sticky […] Typically the amount of salt in a dough is between 1.8 and 2 percent of the amount of flour, by weight. If there is a large proportion of other ingredients, such as seeds, for which salt also enhances flavor, the percentage of salt could be a little higher.
– Susan, The Role of Salt in Bread, Wild Yeast Blog

(For more information about salt, please see Salt is salt, right?)


BBB October 2017

The hazards of taking photos when there is a furry black fiend lurking…. I THOUGHT he was jumping down as I went to take a close-up shot. Ha. :stomp: :stomp:

Bread Baking Babes BBB October 2017

Judy is our host for October 2017’s Bread Baking Babes‘ project. She wrote:

Because October is the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and there is a noticeable nip in the morning air, I selected a seasonal recipe, Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread. The original recipe can be found in Bread for All Seasons, by Beth Hensperger.
– Judy

We know you’ll want to make Pumpkin Cornmeal bread too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 October 2017. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ July 2017 bread.



World Bread Day Zorra (Kochtopf) has been celebrating World Bread Day for more than a decade now. She wrote:

World Bread Day, October 16, 2017 On October 16, it’s World Bread Day again! Since 2006, I invite [you] to bake bread on this special day. Every year hundreds of bloggers follow my invitation. I hope this year too. Hence I kindly invite you to do it again or join us for the first time: Bake a loaf of bread and blog about it on World Bread Day! […]
Let’s bake real Bread!
Real bread just needs yeast, flour, water and salt, no artificial enhancer needed. Of course for World Bread Day you can go fancy with the ingredients and add seeds, grains, vegetables and other natural ingredients.

For more information about how you can participate in World Bread Day, please see

WFD 2017World Food Day
Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.

The world is on the move. More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since the Second World War due to increased conflict and political instability. But hunger, poverty, and an increase in extreme weather events linked to climate change are other important factors contributing to the migration challenge.
Large movements of people today are presenting complex challenges, which call for global action. Many migrants arrive in developing countries, creating tensions where resources are already scarce, but the majority, about 763 million, move within their own countries rather than abroad.
About one-third of all international migrants are aged 15-34. Nearly half are women. […] A quarter of global refugees reside in only three countries (Turkey, Pakistan and Lebanon).
– FAO of the UN, World Food Day Theme (2017)
The world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet, about 800 million people suffer from hunger. That is one in nine people. 60% of them are women. […] 1.9 billion people – more than a quarter of the world’s population – are overweight. One third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted.
– FAO of the UN


BBB October 2017


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11 responses to “Going Wild with Pumpkin Cornmeal Rolls (BBB October 2017)

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    I’m blown away Elizabeth! These are stunning. Love the pipitas but really you did the wild yeast thing, that’s superior. I wanted to use my starter … but when I looked at the calendar it was the 15th.
    You are spot on that these are “old” books if published in 1995 is old. Actually I thought this was even older than that.

    1. Elizabeth

      Thank you, Tanna. I have to admit that I’m pretty blown away too. I can’t quite believe yet that I (I, who said she would NEVER have another pet) not only have a wild starter bubbling away happily in the fridge, but used it for these rolls.

      It is hard to fathom that something from 1995 is old, isn’t it? But I really think you’re right – this recipe must be much older. I almost think that it’s pre-1950, possibly from when active dry yeast was being introduced.

  2. Kelly

    I used butternut too! (That’s one of the reasons I used a wash with a yolk, wasn’t sure if the lighter butternut color would come through.) But my clay baked loaf did not have a wash at all, not even butter. Oops. I used twice as much puree but squeezed the water out since it had been frozen. Ended up using the larger amount of flour and scanting the salt quite a bit. Your roll does look very happy! :)

  3. katiezel

    I make ‘Pumpkin’ bread every year for the holidays but rarely use pumpkin. I could grow it myself but we prefer to eat other squashes…. So I always make it with butternut squash. We can’t tell the difference. Your rolls are gorgeous and I love the addition of cornmeal!

  4. Aparna Balasubramanian

    Your pumpkin seed studded rolls look awesome Elizabeth.
    I also thought the molasses and the yeast was a bit on the higher side and reduced it some. So I had savoury rolls with the barest hint of sweet.
    These are really good with butter. :)


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