Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread sliced on cutting board.

Fall Container The sounds and smells of fall are predictably familiar and comforting. I’ve known them all my life, hearing the chorus of geese honking to one another as they head south, smelling the smoke from a pile of leaves drifting from a backyard, and feeling the crispness in the air as a child trick or treating or walking to school. Even as an adult the pattern continues, the leaves still crunch underfoot, rustling and swirling in the breeze stirred up as I walk my own children to the bus stop each morning. We often talk about taste memories, but it is the echoes, scents, and displays of fall that bring me right back to childhood each year.

That is not to say that the tastes of autumn go by the wayside. Flavors are warmer, spicier, and richer, adding life to both sweet and savory dishes. On these cool days I crave baking- wanting to fill the kitchen with the colors, flavors, and aromas of fall.

This pumpkin bread recipe fits the bill. Many pumpkin bread recipes call for oil as the fat of choice while this recipe uses butter, which I prefer. The original calls for water or orange juice as the liquid, but I swap in cider, as it seems a better complement to the pumpkin. Another addition is nutmeg, to partner with the cinnamon and cloves. I’ve reduced the sugar, which hasn’t done any harm (and no one notices). Finally, the raisins are completely eliminated instead I occasionally add walnuts.

This makes two large loaves of pumpkin bread, one to enjoy now, one to freeze for another day down the road as we march towards winter.

Pumpkin bread slices on cutting board

Pumpkin Bread

  • Servings: 2 large loaves
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*adapted from The Martha Stewart Cookbook, Collected Recipes for Everyday

Ingredients:
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), at room temperature
3 Tablespoons molasses
1 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup cider
2 cups pumpkin puree, homemade or canned
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans.

With an electric mixer, cream butter, molasses, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat until light. Add cider and pumpkin purée and mix well.

Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl, and add the pumpkin mixture, stirring well with a wooden spoon to thoroughly combine. If using the nuts, add them now, folding them carefully into the batter.

Divide evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool.

*This recipe is easily multiplied and freezes well.

Creaming butter, molasses, and sugar until light and fluffy.
Cream butter, molasses, and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at time to the creamed butter and sugar, beating well before adding the next.
Add the eggs one at time, beating well before adding the next.
Butter, sugar, molasses, and egg mixture is light.
Butter, sugar, molasses, and egg mixture is light and creamy.
Adding the pumpkin purée and cider to butter, sugar, and egg mixture.
Add the pumpkin purée and cider and mix well.
Curdled looking mixture... not to worry.
Don’t worry! It looks terrible, but it will be ok!
Combining the wet and dry ingredients well with a wooden spoon.
Add the sifted dry ingredients, combining well with a wooden spoon.
Batter in greased loaf pan.
Divide batter evenly into greased loaf pans.
Pumpkin bread in loaf pan
Pumpkin bread is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

IMG_7458

 

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes served with warm maple syrup and toasted walnuts.

Pumpkin PancakeI was going to post about Pumpkin Bread, and tie it together with the Roasted Pumpkin Puree (and I will) but I was seriously sidetracked by some Pumpkin Pancakes. And it was all quite by chance.

My husband is a wonderful cook. Weekend mornings he can be found whipping up the fluffiest pancakes; his chicken parmigiana is unbelievable and he can smoke a Boston butt or deep fry a turkey with the best of them.

This weekend the kids requested pancakes. While dear husband gathered the ingredients, I made the coffee. As I poked my head in the fridge for some half and half, my eyes landed on the last of the pumpkin purée. Eureka moment. “Hey, why don’t you throw this pumpkin in the batter?” Silence. Dead silence. I could hear crickets. Not one to give up I asked, “What do you think?” Long long pause. (Translation- don’t mess with my pancakes.) Finally a reply, “Let’s leave it up to B. Whatever she thinks.” I have to admit, at this point the deal was sealed because I knew exactly what B would say, “Pumpkin pancakes? Yum!”

The regular weekend pancakes were already top notch, but the addition of pumpkin, cider, and the classic spice combination of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves turned already stellar pancakes into something very special for fall and winter breakfasts (and dinners!).  Gently warmed maple syrup with butter added a touch of sweetness, while the toasted walnuts sprinkled on top provided a satisfying crunch to contrast with the fluffiness of the pancakes.

Needless to say, pumpkin pancakes have been officially added to the rotation at White House Red Door.

Have you ever had that moment of spontaneity in the kitchen? A eureka moment that led to something delicious?

Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Toasted Walnuts

Pumpkin Pancakes

  • Servings: 15-20 pancakes
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Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup apple cider
1 cup pumpkin purée
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For serving:
warm maple syrup with butter
toasted walnuts or pecans

Instructions:
Preheat griddle to 350°-375°.

Mix dry ingredients. In a separate container, whisk eggs, then add vanilla, cider, and milk stirring well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined.

Stir in pumpkin, then add melted butter.

When griddle is ready, spoon 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until the top of each pancake is dotted with bubbles and some have popped open. Carefully flip and cook until the other side is golden brown. Serve immediately with maple syrup and toasted walnuts. Though best enjoyed right away, the pancakes can also be kept warm in a 200° oven until ready to serve.

Pumpkin pancakes dry ingredients whisked together.
Whisk the dry ingredients together.
3 eggs ready for whisking.
Whisk the eggs together.
Whisking vanilla into eggs.
Whisk vanilla into eggs.
Whisk cider and milk into egg/vanilla mixture.
Whisk cider and milk into egg/vanilla mixture.
Pumpkin Pancakes- gently combine liquid and dry ingredients
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently combine.
Stir the pumpkin purée into the batter.
Stir the pumpkin purée to the batter.
Stir melted butter into the batter.
Stir melted butter into the batter.
Pancakes on the griddle are dotted with popped and unpopped bubbles.
When the tops of the pancakes are dotted with popped and unpopped bubbles, it is time to flip.

Flipped pancakes on the griddle.

Pumpkin pancakes served with warm maple syrup and toasted walnuts.
Serve with warm maple syrup and toasted walnuts.

 

 

Roasted Pumpkin Purée

Sugar PumpkinBeing part of a CSA has so many benefits… supporting and connecting with local farmers while picking up my weekly share under a tent in a field is far more interesting than maneuvering the aisles of the grocery store, and enjoying veggies that were literally just picked earlier that day, they don’t get any fresher and more delicious! Because the nature of a CSA promotes a “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset” mentality, another benefit is that I’m challenged to finds ways to use vegetables that I normally would pass by, as well as the ones that I don’t care for (I’m talking to you zucchini).

Each fall, sugar or pie pumpkin make appearances in our CSA pick up. At first I was intimidated, my hands on experience with pumpkin was limited to a once a year carving for Halloween, followed by roasting the seeds. The only other pumpkin I had ever used in the kitchen came from a can. But stretched to do something with this new addition to the weekly pick up, I found myself roasting pumpkins. It couldn’t be any easier. Lately, more and more sugar and pie pumpkins are showing up at the grocery store, so I can’t be the only one using them. And while definitely not necessary because canned pumpkin is so good (though it may not be all “pumpkin”), roasting your own pumpkin is fun to try.

***Important note- Do NOT use jack-o-lantern pumpkins, they are far too watery! Instead, look for small sugar or pie pumpkins, usually in the 3-6lb range.***

Pumpkin Purée

Roasted Pumpkin Purée

  • Servings: approximately 3 cups
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Ingredients:
1 sugar or pie pumpkin, 3-6lbs

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.

Remove stem and cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds (save and roast later) and using a spoon, scrape out stringy pulp. Cut each half in half, so that you have 4 quarters.

Transfer pumpkin quarters to lined baking sheet. Roast until fork tender, about 45 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and purée in a food processor or simply mash it.

Use in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin or pumpkin purée. This purée also freezes well.

Sugar pumpkin halved and seeded.
Using a large chef’s knife, cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Remember to save the seeds for roasting.
Scrape away any stringy pulp and discard. Place the pumpkin pieces on a parchment lined sheet pan.
Scrape away any stringy pulp and discard. Place the pumpkin pieces on a parchment lined sheet pan.
Roasted pumpkin quarters on sheet pan.
Pumpkin is done when it is easily pierced with a fork.
Roasted pumpkin being scooped out.
When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.
Pumpkin Purée
Either purée in a food processor or mash. Use as you would in any recipe calling for canned pumpkin or pumpkin purée.

Mixed Berry Crostata

Mixed-Berry-Crostata

Mixed-Berry-Crostata

Happy 4th of July! Time to get your red, white and blue on…

If you read my Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Balsamic Glaze post, you already know that making pie crust causes me incredible anxiety. From the vague instructions- add ice cold water by the thimbleful until the dough just comes together- not too wet or too sticky (what does that look like? feel like?) to the actual chilling, rolling, transferring to a pie plate, and please don’t forget the decorative crimping or lattice work. And that’s only if I even get to that point. Usually in my case things start going wrong almost immediately, beginning with adding too much or too little water. After chilling, the dough rarely rolls out smoothly and evenly. The edges are dry and cracking or the center is tearing or, more often than not, I’m trying to manage both crises simultaneously! The crust becomes a patchwork quilt of botched attempts at repairs. Then the transfer, have you seen how the experts roll up their pie crust around their rolling pins, then neatly unroll the crust into the pie plate? Are you kidding me? In my kitchen it’s all hands on deck, one person lifting the pie crust (still on the wax paper on which it was rolled), another helper quickly sliding the pie plate under the elevated dough, while a third person tries to flip the wax paper over and “release” the pie crust so that it flops into the pie plate. Which undoubtedly leads to more repairs. It’s enough to make me want to eat cake. Well, maybe almost enough. I really do prefer pie, especially in the summer with all the luscious ripe fruit that is available.

raspberries-and-blackberries

Like the Mascarpone Tart, the Crostata is another user friendly dessert with crust. This crust has the added benefit of an egg, which makes rolling out a breeze. Even better, you roll directly onto your parchment paper or silicone liner. No transferring necessary; you don’t even need a pie tin! As for decorative crimping or lattice- not with a crostata, all you need to do is fold an inch of crust over the edge of your fruit. In honor of the 4th, this filling is made up of raspberries and blackberries to represent red and blue, while the white comes from vanilla ice cream served on the side. Feel free to use any fruit you want… depending on what’s in the fridge I’ve tossed strawberries and blueberries into the mix; peaches and raspberries are a classic combination, or go monochromatic and pick one of your favorite seasonal fruits to use. This recipe is so easy that experimenting is fun and delicious!

Mixed-Berry-Crostata-with-Ice-Cream

Mixed Berry Crostata

  • Servings: 6-8
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*from Country Living

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup raspberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar

Instructions:
Make the dough: Combine 1 ¼ cups flour, ¼ cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Form a well in center of the dry ingredients and place the butter and 1 lightly beaten egg in the well. Using your hands, mix the ingredients into a soft, pliable dough. Form it into a 4-inch disk and place it on a lightly flour parchment paper. Lightly dust the dough with flour and roll it into a 10-inch circle. Place the dough with parchment on a baking sheet, cover the dough with plastic wrap, and chill for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°.

Make the crostata: In a small bowl, mix remaining flour and sugar and set aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and evenly spread the flour and sugar mixture on the dough, leaving a 1-inch-wide border around the edge. Place berries on top of the mixture and sprinkle with lemon juice. Fold the 1-inch border over the top of the berries to form a 9-inch crostata.

Bake the crostata: Lightly beat the remaining egg. Brush the top of the crostata dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake on the middle rack of the oven- about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and slide crostata with the parchment paper onto a wire rack. Cool for 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Dry-ingredients-with-egg-and-butter
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the softened butter and one lightly beaten egg.
Crostata-mixing-dry-and-wet-ingredients
Use your fingers to mix the dry and wet ingredients together.
Crostata-dough-is-ready-to-roll
The dough has come together and is ready to roll.
Crostata-dough-on-floured-surface
Lightly flour your parchment paper or silicone liner, as well as the dough.
crostata-10-inch-crostata-crust
Roll the dough into a 10-inch round.
Crostata-berries-on-crust
Scatter berries on top of flour/sugar mixture.
Crostata-edges-folded-over
Fold a 1-inch border over the berry filling.
Crostata-edges-brushed-with-egg-and-sugar
Brush the crostata edges with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Crostata-cooling-on-a-wire-rack
Transfer the crostata to a wire rack to finish cooling.