Holiday Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg, authors of Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, share the story behind their love for baking nutritious and delicious breads, and a recipe for pumpkin pie bread that takes just five minutes of active preparation time. 

Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg, Writing for
4-minute read
The best thing about holidays, or really any celebration, is gathering with family and community to share time and great food together. Every culture in the world has its traditional, festive holiday recipes, and we set out to find them. Some were shared by our readers—one asked how to adapt her grandmother’s Christmas stollen—or from people we met in the most unlikely places, like the airport limo driver in Denver who told us about Moroccan meloui. There is so much love and joy connected to these breads and the memories they evoke.

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This is a book devoted to the sweeter side of bread—sweet-tasting, of course, but sweet for the soul, too. We’ve always struck a balance in our books between our love of carbs and sweets and our desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We are, after all, a pastry chef and a physician, writing books about bread, so there’s bound to be a push and pull. Creating a book about holiday breads that are mostly full of sugar and butter can pose a philosophical dilemma. Even Zoë, a pastry chef by training, is as conscientious about what she eats and as careful to bake healthfully for her family as Jeff, who’s a physician. And what we’ve discovered in our twelve-year collaboration comes down to this: moderation. Enjoy life, enjoy bread, enjoy sweets; just do it all in moderation, and even the most decadent treats can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
We’ve included recipes that are made with whole grains and alternative sweeteners, but we don’t use artificial sweeteners or synthetic fats, since we don’t love the way they taste. If you have specific dietary needs, you may want to consider our book The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which uses whole grains and focuses on a healthy list of ingredients, or for non-wheat eaters, our Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. These books include delicious, indulgent holiday breads too. Most importantly, enjoy all the bread you bake!

Pumpkin Pie Bread 

Autumn is the start of what we Minnesotans call the baking season, when the leaves start to change, the air is crisp, and all we want to do is pour a cup of tea as the kitchen fills up with the smell of baking bread. Pumpkin is one of the most classic fall flavors and is really the heart of the holiday meals to come. This bread is one of our favorite ways to showcase pumpkin: the orange gourd’s subtle flavor blends beautifully with warm spices and is marvelous all on its own, swirled with Nutella or cinnamon, and topped with cream cheese icing. 
Makes enough dough for at least two 2-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

Ingredient Volume (U.S)/weight (U.S.)/weight (metric) 

  • All-purpose flour 7 cups/ 2 pounds, 3 ounces/ 990 grams
  • Granulated yeast 1 tablespoon/ 0.35 ounces/ 10 grams
  • Kosher salt 1 tablespoon/ 0.6 ounce/ 17 grams
  • Pumpkin pie spice 1½ tablespoons
  • Lukewarm water (100°F or below) 1 cup/ 8 ounces/ 195 grams
  • Honey ½ cup/ 6 ounces/ 170 grams
  • Vegetable oil ½ cup/ 3½ ounces/ 98 grams
  • Pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
  • Canned pumpkin puree or a “pie” pumpkin for roasting 1¾ cups/ 15 ounces/ 425 grams
  • Egg yolk wash (1 yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water), for brushing the loaf

Cooking Instructions: 

  1. If making your own fresh pumpkin puree: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Split the “pie” pumpkin in half, starting at the stem, and place it cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with foil or a silicone mat. Bake for 45 minutes. The pumpkin should be very soft all the way through when poked with a knife. Allow to cool slightly before scooping out the seeds.
  2. Scoop out the roasted flesh of the pumpkin and puree it in the food processor. Set aside 1¾ cups (15 ounces) for the dough and use any leftover in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe.
  3. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and spices in a 5-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
  4. Combine the liquid ingredients with the pumpkin puree and mix them with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle), Danish dough whisk, or spoon. You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine.
  5. The dough will be loose, but it will firm up when chilled. Don’t try to use it without chilling for at least 3 hours.
  6. Cover (not airtight), allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours, and then refrigerate.
  7. The dough can be used as soon as it’s thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days. To freeze dough, see page 42.
  8. On baking day, grease a brioche pan or an 8½ x 4½-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece of dough. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball. Place the ball in the prepared pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven.
  10. Just before baking, brush the loaf ’s top with egg yolk wash.
  11. Bake for about 50 minutes. The loaf is done when it is caramel brown and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in resting and baking time.
  12. Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool on a rack before slicing and eating.