Bread with Braided Pumpkin-Cheese
- Combine milk, warm water, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let stand until yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 10 minutes.
- Add oil, pumpkin puree, flour, and salt in the order listed. Mix until a soft, smooth, and tacky dough forms. Adjust flour and water amounts if dough is too sticky.
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Divide dough into 2 balls and lightly flour each. Return 1 ball to the covered bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. Roll the remaining ball into a 12×16-inch rectangle. Spread 1/2 of the Colby-Jack cheese evenly over the surface. Roll dough up from the short side like a jelly roll and pinch seams to seal.
- Cut roll lengthwise down the middle using a sharp, non-serrated knife. Place two halves next to each other, cut-sides facing up, and braid together starting by placing right side over left. Do your best to keep the cut-sides facing upwards. Seal both ends of the braid and place into a greased loaf pan, cut-sides up.
- Cover dough with plastic. Repeat rolling, filling, and braiding with the remaining dough. Let loaves rise until they reach the top of the loaf pan or start to peek above it, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove plastic wrap.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Rotate pans and tent loaves with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- Remove loaf pans from the oven; cool for 5 minutes. Cool loaves on a rack for 1 hour.
Cook’s Note:Feel free to keep the second dough half in the fridge for longer and bake it on a separate occasion.
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