Updated October 14, 2019 (Originally posted October 31, 2017)
It's halfway through October, which means the countdown to Halloween begins! Let's face it, with kids bringing home their trick or treating loot, and having leftover candy in the house, the last thing you need is another Halloween dessert, right? (Ok, maybe we can make exceptions for my spooky eyeballs and creepy cupcakes) So here's a great savory option for a Halloween treat: shiitake BLT using homemade pumpkin buns!
Cute and festive, right? I made fluffy buns that look like little pumpkins and used them to make some shiitake BLT sandwiches from The Love and Lemons Cookbook! October is National Cookbook Month, and in 2017 I focused on a few selected recipes from this cookbook to review.
How to make pumpkin buns
The best thing about these pumpkin buns is that the dough comes together in the bread machine! That's right, it's a no-knead recipe thanks to the bread machine!
Set your ingredients in the bread machine, and put it on the dough setting. When your dough is ready, separate it into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and loosely wrap a well-oiled piece of twine around so it divides the ball into 8 sections. Tie the ends of the twine in the center, and place the ball on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
It's so important to make sure the twine is oiled up so it doesn't stick as much to the bread after it bakes.
Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and let the dough balls rise somewhere warm for about half an hour to an hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
Don't forget to stick a pumpkin seed on top as the stem before baking them in the oven!
Bake the pumpkin buns for 10 minutes at 320°F/160°C and for another 10 minutes at 300°F/150°C. We're baking them at a lower temperature so they keep their pumpkin color and don't brown in the oven. Take them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting the twine off.
Not going to lie, peeling the twine off can be tedious. I tied some of my dough balls too tightly so I had to slice the bread along the crease, just a little, to ease the twine out with a pair of tweezers. But look how realistic my pumpkin buns turned out!
And look how fluffy! Slice the buns in half for the shiitake BLT sandwiches. If you want, you could toast them or grill them before for some texture and flavor!
How to make shiitake BLT
This was my first time trying a meatless BLT sandwich. I'd seen recipes using eggplant bacon, coconut bacon, and like The Love & Lemons recipe, mushroom bacon.
Making shiitake bacon is as easy as marinating the sliced mushrooms in some olive oil and tamari, and baking them in the oven until they turn crispy!
I think I sliced my shiitake too thick because mine didn't turn crispy in the oven, even after 40 minutes of baking. I could've kept baking them, but my kitchen and dining room were filled with a strong shiitake aroma, and I was too hungry to wait any longer!
Spread some mayo on the pumpkin buns, and assemble the sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, and shiitake bacon.
How cute are these shiitake BLT sandwiches? They were absolutely delicious, as long as you don't expect a traditional BLT. The shiitake mushrooms provide a lot of umami but they definitely don't taste like bacon. If I were to make these again, I'd add some smoked paprika to the marinade to add a smoky bacon flavor!
If you're not a fan of mushrooms or the idea of a vegetarian BLT, just make the pumpkin buns! I've made some peanut butter and maple syrup sandwiches using these pumpkin buns and they were delicious!
Pumpkin Buns and Shiitake BLT
- 2¼ cups (285g) bread flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup (50g) light brown sugar
- 2½ tablespoons (35g) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup (58g) pumpkin purée
- ½ cup (120ml) whole milk
- 1¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 6 pieces of twine (40in/100cm per piece)
- 6 pumpkin seeds
- 1½ lbs (680g) shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoon tamari
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 handfuls of lettuce
- 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- Set the ingredients in your bread machine and put it on the dough setting. While the dough is kneading, rub some coconut oil onto each piece of twine, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- When the dough is ready, take it out onto a floured surface and separate the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
- Loosely wrap the well-oiled piece of twine around each ball so it divides the ball into 8 sections. Tie the ends of the twine in the center, and place the ball on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and let it rise somewhere warm for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Preheat the oven to 320°F/160°C while the dough rises.
- Bake the buns for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 300°F/150°C and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Take the buns out of the oven to a wire rack and let them cool completely before cutting the twine off.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, combine the extra-virgin olive oil and tamari, and toss the mushrooms in the marinade. Place the well-coated shiitake slices on the baking sheet so the mushrooms aren't touching each other. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway through until the mushrooms are shriveled and crispy.
- Slice the pumpkin buns in half and assemble the sandwiches.