Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf {TWD-BWJ}

I can’t tell you how excited I was about this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Julia recipe. After all, it features one of my favorite ingredients: pumpkin! To say I love pumpkin doesn’t really do justice to how I feel about this ingredient. Obsessed might be a better word.

Anyway, I was really looking forward to this bread. And it did not disappoint!

Now, this is not what you probably think of when you hear “pumpkin bread”. It’s a yeast bread, not a quick bread. And it’s not overly sweet. It’s more like raisin bread. Except with pumpkin. And walnuts. And whole cranberries.

Isn’t that beautiful? And you should have seen the bread!

Here are my observations:

  • As mentioned, this isn’t a sweet bread. It’s actually a bit on the savory side, with the tangy cranberries, walnuts, and even the pumpkin, which is, after all, a squash.
  • Speaking of the pumpkin, it adds a beautiful color to the dough, but not a distinct flavor. If you tasted it with your eyes closed, you probably wouldn’t guess that it had pumpkin in it.
  • As I often do with pumpkin-based recipes, I switched out the spices called for in the recipe with five-spice powder.
  • A number of bakers reported that their dough didn’t rise well. Mine rose fine, but when it came out of the fridge after an overnight rest, it was really sluggish. It’s a really rich dough, so I would probably recommend using SAF Gold yeast if you have any.
  • I baked my loaf in one pan, and it took significantly longer than the recipe called for. The finished loaf was moist, somewhat dense, and delicious.
  • This bread is great as toast with butter. But with Speculoos butter, it is sublime.
  • This would be the perfect bread for making toast on Thanksgiving morning. It wouldn’t be too filling, but it would wake your mouth up to the flavors to come later in the day.
  • I wonder how this bread would be as bread pudding? I don’t think the current loaf is going to last long enough to find out, but it would be worth making again for that purpose.

So, in summary, I loved this bread! And not just because it had pumpkin in it. Although, that certainly didn’t hurt.

Advertisements

Virtual Cookie Exchange — Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti & Gingerbread Biscotti {Recipe}

 

OK, I have a confession to make. I have been slow, make that very slow, to get into the holiday spirit this year. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been sick around here. Maybe it’s the thought of gearing up for another tax season. Maybe it’s the weather. But whatever the reason (his heart, or his shoes), I’ve been a bit of a Grinch so far this Christmas. In fact, if it weren’t for the kids, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have bothered putting up the tree.

But put up the tree we did. And about the time I was starting to get into the spirit — adorning the house with all of the Christmas decorations, old and new, and listening to Christmas music on the radio — I got an e-mail from Di over at Di’s Kitchen Notebook inviting me to participate in a Virtual Cookie Exchange. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about cooking and baking bloggers, it’s that they’re a sociable and creative lot. So even though I had no idea what a “virtual” cookie exchange was, I knew it would be fun.

The set up was simple: we would all pick a cookie recipe — a family favorite, something we’ve been wanting to try, or even a new recipe we’re working on — bake it, snap some pictures, and post the recipe on our blogs on the same date (December 13). I signed up right away, even though I had no idea what I would bake.

As it turns out, I decided to make two recipes, one that I had made before and another one that I have had in mind for a while but haven’t tried to make yet. And to make it even more fun,  a bunch of the people in the cookie exchange decided to Twitterbake our cookies together the other day. So, with one recipe in hand and the other in mind, I hit the kitchen at the designated time and started baking.

The first recipe I made was the one I was inventing — Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti. I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to make them, so I started with a rough outline of a recipe and took notes as I put it together. They came out really well. This is a recipe I’m happy to share, and one I will be making for years to come.

Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup solid-pack canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup whole fresh cranberries
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2.  Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spice in a large bowl and set aside.

3.  Put eggs in bowl of electric mixer.  Beat at medium speed until lemony in color, about one minute.  Add pumpkin, butter, and vanilla and mix on low speed to combine.

4.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in three additions, mixing well on low speed after each addition.  Add cranberries and pecans.  Stir into dough with mixer or by hand.

5.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Lightly flour your hands.  Shape the dough into a log.  Divide log into two pieces with a bench scraper and roll each piece into a log about 15 x 2 inches.   Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet a few inches apart.  Flatten the logs so the tops are even.

6.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown and firm to the touch.  (It’s OK if they seem a little underbaked at this point.  In fact, it’s better to underbake them then overbake or they will crumble when you cut them.)  Remove from oven and place logs on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.

7.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

8.  After the logs have cooled, transfer each to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.  Don’t push down as you cut; let the knife do the work.  Place the slices cut side down on a baking sheet.

9.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until biscotti are dry.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: about 3 dozen biscotti

Shaped and flattened logs

 

After first bake

Sliced and ready for second bake

Et voila!

The second recipe I made was one I have made before. I don’t remember where I got the original recipe (online somewhere), but I’ve tinkered with it enough to call it my own.

Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread Biscotti

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole raw almonds

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.  Set aside.

3.  Measure the butter and molasses into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until light, about one minute.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  The batter may appear separated at this point. That’s fine. It will come together as soon as the flour is added. 

4.  Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture on low speed in three additions, mixing well after each addition.  Gently stir in the almonds with mixer or spoon.

5.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Lightly flour your hands.  Shape the dough into a log.  Divide log into two pieces and roll each piece into a log about 15 x 2 inches.   Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet a few inches apart.  Flatten the logs so the tops are even.

6.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and place logs on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.

7.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

8.  After the logs have cooled, transfer each to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.  Place the slices cut side down on a baking sheet.

9.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until biscotti are dry.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: about 3 dozen biscotti

Tip:  After adding butter to mixer bowl, use butter wrapper to grease measuring cup so molasses will release from cup without sticking.

Check out the roundup over at Di’s site to see what everyone else is baking. And if you try the biscotti, let me know what you think.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

When Life Gives You Cranberries, Make Cranberry Walnut Bread

Here’s a familiar story in my house:  As the holiday cooking season nears, cranberries go on sale. When I see what a great price they are, I decide to stock up on them. I always use a couple bags to make my mom’s cranberry orange relish, but what to do with the rest? I usually wind up freezing them to use later.

But I can never figure out what to make with them, and before I get around to using any of them, they go on sale again. So I buy more. And take them home. And put them in the freezer for later. I estimate that it will be about two more years before I need another freezer.

In the meantime, I resolved to actually use some of the extra cranberries this year. And what better way to start than good, old-fashioned cranberry walnut bread?

Cranberry Walnut Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • grated peel from one orange
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 12-ounce bag cranberries, chopped (see Note below)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add orange peel, shortening, eggs, and orange juice and mix well with a dough whisk. Stir in cranberries and walnuts.
  4. Divide dough evenly between loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and internal temperature reaches 185-190 degrees.
  5. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and finish cooling on rack.

Note:  It is easiest to chop cranberries in the food processor. If you try to chop them with a knife, you’ll end up with as many cranberries on the floor as on your cutting board. Be careful not to over-process, however. Four or five pulses should be sufficient.

So, there you have it. My first attempt to use up the world’s largest store of cranberries outside of Cape Cod. Oh, and in case you’re interested, my mom’s cranberry relish is really simple:  for every bag of cranberries, use one whole orange (peel and all) and a scant cup of sugar. Chop the cranberries and orange in the food processor or food grinder. Add sugar to taste and stir until the sugar dissolves. This cranberry relish will keep in the fridge for a long time, so make lots of it.

Oh, and if all else fails, I found one more use for cranberries. Bailey loves them.

When life gives you cranberries, eat 'em.