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People love fresh homemade bread—even if it’s not perfect. So that gives you a lot of room to experiment.

One of my favorite bread mixes is our Pumpkin Walnut Bread Mix. I’m hooked. It’s loaded with pumpkin, I love the spice blend, and it has a ton of walnuts. It’s not a cheap bread but very, very good.

But it was a tricky bread mix to develop. This is one of the few breads that is not perfect in both a bread machine and in the oven. The perfect loaf in the bread machine was too wet to handle on the counter. The more flour we added, the less volume in the bread machine. We compromised. With a little more flour, we had a very good bread in the bread machine and a sticky but workable dough on the counter.

And the bread is fantastic. When baked in the oven, the crumb is a little more open than in a bread machine. Both make big full loaves. When you mix it with your stand-type mixer and dough hook, let it work vigorously at a higher speed and longer than you would expect and scrape the sides of the mixing bowl a couple times. When you bake it in the oven, dust your hands and the counter with flour and you’ll be able to handle it. As with most breads, the wetter the dough, the lighter, softer, and more open the crumb. Unless it’s necessary, avoid the temptation to add more flour.

We made it as a freestanding loaf, an oval loaf on a greased cookie sheet. We let it rise and rise until we could see blisters starting to form beneath the surface. It made a huge loaf. We took it down to the store with a cream cheese spread that we had whipped with apricot syrup. Most people that tried the bread, bought the mix.

Next, we made it in a loaf pan, a 9X5-loaf. That’s what you see above. As you can see, it too made a large, full loaf. Our favorite way to make this bread is in a 9-inch cake pan. It makes a very impressive bread, ten inches in diameter and five inches high. Again, let it rise and rise.

Making Sweet Breads with This Bread

This is not a sweet bread but an open, yeasted loaf. But pumpkin, walnuts, and spices make for great sweet breads.

First, we made cinnamon rolls. For the filling, we used brown sugar, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. We frosted the rolls with an orange cream cheese frosting. Customers loved them.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Zest from one orange
2-3 tablespoons juice
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon meringue powder

Beat the cream cheese, butter, and zest together. Add the powder sugar and meringue powder. Beat the mixture add enough orange juice to make the right consistency.

Making Pumpkin Pineapple Nut Rolls

Form these just as you would dinner rolls, cutting the dough into 24 equal pieces. After they rise, bake them for about 12 minutes.

When you take the rolls from the oven, put a tiny slit in the side of each roll and fill them with pastry filling. Use a premade filling in a squeeze pack and fill them just as you would cupcakes. (Snip the corner off the pack, stick it in the slit, and squeeze.)

Make a frosting and frost them. We made a pineapple cream cheese frosting similar to the orange frosting above and with crushed pineapple.

We filled these, some with apple filling and some with pineapple filling. (I preferred the pineapple filling, but they are both good.) See our dessert fillings here.

These were excellent sweet rolls that our customers loved.

Options for Savory Breads and Sandwich Breads

With nearly any bread, you can make dinner rolls, sandwich rolls and buns. A sandwich or a burger gets a whole lot better on a fresh, homemade bun.

The burger on the right was made with a Sour Cream Onion Roll bread mix.

Learn how to make homemade buns.

We hope you have some fun experimenting in your kitchen!

About the Author

Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho. He loves to help people bake and shares his vast collection of cooking and baking knowledge on his blog as well as in his e-books and magazines. Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and six beautiful granddaughters.