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.

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Pumpkin Dinner Roundup

Welcome, Fall! This is, by far, my favorite season. And one my favorite things about this time of year…

Pumpkins!! Sure, they’re fun to carve, and they make great decorations. But what I really love to do with pumpkins is cook and bake with them. So, I rounded up some of my friends for a Fall-welcoming pumpkin dinner.

Renee over at Every Pot and Pan got dinner started with not one, but two recipes: Pumpkin Curry Soup and three varieties of Pumpkin Fries. She preferred the cinnamon fries, but I’d love to try the herb and spicy versions, too!

Nancy from The Dogs Eat the Crumbs rushed back from her daughter’s wedding to make another soup for us, Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Cider Cream. Mmm, mmm good!

Di over at Di’s Kitchen Notebook decided to test a new recipe on us, and we’re so glad she did. Her Pumpkin Brioche Rolls look both cute and delicious!

Marthe of The Baking Bluefinger made a delicious entrée of Pasta with Mushrooms and Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Sauce.

And nothing goes better with a big bowl of pasta than slice of fresh, warm bread. Margaret at Tea and Scones knows this, so she provided us with this beautiful, yeasty Braided Pumpkin Bread.

Mel from Mel’s Home Baking Adventure also shared two dishes with us. First, she made Pumpkin Ravioli, combining recipes from Wolfgang Puck and Giada.

And as if that wasn’t enough, she also made these amazing looking Pumpkin Scones.

Heather, over at Tease-spoon of Sugar, made this wonderful Pumpkin Risotto as an elegant, savory side dish.

My contribution was another side dish (although I could easily eat this as a complete meal): Stuffed Pumpkin.

In addition to providing the jack-o-lanterns at the top of the page, Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table also gave us these wonderful Pumpkin Cookie Bites for dessert.

And last, but certainly not least, Abby at Stir it! Scrape it! Mix it! Bake it! got the whole family involved in making these amazing Pumpkin Muffins!

I’m sure these Pumpkin Muffins will go fast, but I’m hoping there are a few left for breakfast tomorrow morning!

Man, am I stuffed. I think I’ll have to wait a bit before I drink my pumpkin coffee with a slice of good, old fashioned pumpkin pie.

I hope you enjoyed this pumpkin dinner as much as I did. Be sure to check back in a few weeks for our Thanksdiving Dinner Roundup!

Whole Wheat Currant Bread {ModBak}

Whole Wheat Currant Bread is the third quick bread in the Modern Baker Challenge. When I think of quick bread, what comes to mind is something sweet and flavorful, more like a cake than a bread. Pumpkin bread, banana bread, blueberry bread — these are all my quick bread ideals.

So I must admit that I wasn’t all that excited to make this bread. It’s loaded with currants — and while I have nothing against currants per se, I had never actually baked with them before, and they just seem so healthy and, I don’t know, British.

But the real problem I had with this bread is that it is made with whole wheat flour. And not just some whole wheat flour, but 100% whole wheat flour. That’s right — it’s all whole wheat; not an ounce of AP or bread flour to be found. Again, I have no particular objection to whole wheat flour — I bake a lot of breads with at least some whole grain in them and love the complexity it adds to the flavor — but 100% whole wheat quick bread? I just couldn’t see why I would want to bake, let alone eat that. But I have committed myself to baking every recipe in The Modern Baker in order, so, like it or not, I cold hardly stall out on the third bread.

I began by assembling my ingredients. Although I’m a big proponent of using mise en place, I don’t always do a full mise for all my recipes. At the very least, though, I get out all of the ingredients so they are all at hand and I am certain that I am not missing anything.

As with many of Nick Malgieri‘s quick breads, the list of ingredients in Whole Wheat Currant Bread isn’t really all that long. Other than the whole wheat flour and currants, there is sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, oil, and milk or buttermilk. As with most recipes calling for buttermilk, I used dry buttermilk powder and water. I love the flavor of buttermilk but rarely keep in on hand, so  I almost always have buttermilk powder in the cupboard.

The batter came together very fast — it is a quick bread, after all. I didn’t time myself, but I would guess that the time between assembling the ingredients and putting the loaf in the oven couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes.

I baked the loaf at 350° F for 50 minutes, until a knife inserted near the center of the loaf came out clean. While the loaf was baking, I began to wonder if perhaps I had been too quick to judge this bread. It smelled really good in the oven, and when I took it out, I found I didn’t want to wait for it to cool before slicing into it.

But wait I did, at least for a while. When I finally sliced into the bread, it was still a bit warm and was loaded with currants. It still smelled divine, and I decided to try it with a little smear of salted butter.

So, how was it? Did the complexity of the whole wheat and the sweetness of the currants overcome my skepticism and make a believer out of me? In a word — YES!!! This bread was absolutely delicious. It didn’t have the grainy texture, density, and mealy flavor that whole wheat breads sometimes have. The robust flavor of the whole wheat was perfectly matched by the sweetness of the currants.

My family and several co-workers with whom I shared this bread all agreed: this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Weekend Warrior, BBA Style

 

A number of people have noted that, now that we are about halfway through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, they have hit a wall. It’s not that they want to quit the Challenge; they just don’t want to bake for a while. Just the opposite happened to me this week. I got my baking and canning mojo on big time. I had a long weekend, and from Saturday to Monday, I managed to make and can apple cider jelly, apple butter and 4-citrus marmalade, and to bake pumpkin gingerbread, pain a l’ancienne, pain de compagne and struan.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This was not a typical weekend for me. In fact, I have never even come close to being this productive in the kitchen before. I don’t know what came over me: I just felt like baking and cooking.

On Saturday morning, I made pumpkin gingerbread, which was the October BOM (bread of the month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers group. And it was, indeed, the bomb. Check out the recipe if you want to try it for yourself.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Crumb

In the afternoon on Saturday, we went to a local farm market and came home with lots of goodies, including apple cider. I made apple cider jelly in the evening. I think it will be really good as a glaze for tarts or grilled chicken.

While the jelly was cooking, I also baked a half recipe of BBA pain a l’ancienne. This is a rustic bread, crusty, full of holes and definitely homemade looking. I especially enjoy what I consider to be real artisan breads (sourdoughs and those breads containing flour, water, salt, yeast, and little else), so I was looking forward to this recipe. It was a very slack dough, due to the high hydration.

Pain a l'Ancienne shaped

This made it somewhat challenging to work with. But the loaves came out looking really nice.

Pain a l'Ancienne

And the crumb was beautiful.

Pain a l'Ancienne Crumb

And the taste? That’s where the letdown came for me. I didn’t exactly dislike it. But I wasn’t crazy about it, either. It was sort of bland and lifeless. Ah, well. Maybe next time (which wouldn’t be a very long wait for me this weekend).

Sunday morning saw the continuation of the canning craze, as I made my first-ever batch of apple butter. Here are a few pictures: before cooking, after cooking, and after straining.

Apples for Apple Butter

Apple Butter Cooked

Apple Butter - Strained

I went kind of light on the cinnamon and nutmeg, and was really pleased with the results. Several people at work said they don’t normally like apple butter, but they liked this.

While the apples were cooking down, I started on my next BBA bread: pain de compagne. This was a fun bread to make, as it lends itself to all kinds of creative shaping. I opted to try my hand at an auvergnat (cap), couronne (crown), and epi (wheat sheaf). As you can see, I had somewhat mixed results. I liked the couronne and epi. But the auvergnat looked a bit like a stick figure head wearing a graduation cap.

Pain de Compagne shaped

Pain de Compagne proofed

Pain de Compagne

These were really flavorful loaves. My 5-year-old and I kept tearing the nubbins off the epi and eating them. And the auvergnat tasted much better than it looked.

On Sunday evening, I started the 4-citrus marmalade. I began with my citrus marmalade recipe, which I altered by reducing the lemon to 1 and adding 2 limes and about 3/4 of a grapefruit. The citrus marmalade has a great flavor — tangy and sweet — and I thought the addition of lime and grapefruit would enhance the flavor and add a lot to the visual appeal as well.

4 Citruses

After boiling the citrus, I added the sugar, covered the pan and let it sit overnight. By Monday morning, there was a lot more liquid.

4 Citrus Marmalade in the Morning

I cooked it down for several hours, then canned it.

4 Citrus Marmalade Boiled

I will have to write up this recipe, as it was all I had hoped it would be. I can’t wait to give it away for Christmas.

For those of you keeping score, I had one more bread to go. The end of my baking adventure was struan. I used Peter Reinhart’s multigrain bread extraordinaire recipe in BBA, but I doubled it since one loaf just wasn’t enough the last time.

After I had baked my first batch of straun for the BBA Challenge, I realized I had King Arthur 12-grain flour in the freezer, which seemed like a natural addition for this bread. So this time, I replaced about 1/3 of the bread flour in the recipe with the multigrain flour.

And I added more (and different) rice. I had to go to the store to buy rice, so I picked up three bags — brown, red and forbidden (black). I cooked them all together using Nicole’s foolproof method. It is, of course, impossible to cook a few ounces of rice, and I didn’t even try. Instead, I used 1/3 cup (dry) of each rice to make a nice-sized batch. After I measured out the rice for my struan, I wrapped the remaining rice mixture in 2-ounce packages (about 8 in all) and froze them for later use.

And I will use them. I love this bread. In fact, it may be my favorite BBA Challenge bread so far. It has incredible depth of flavor. With polenta, bran, oats, rice, etc., how could it not? And it’s great plain, as toast or for sandwiches. I think the next time I make struan, I will try baking it in my pain de mie pan for a true sandwich loaf.

Thus ended my crazy canning and baking weekend. Even though I had a lot of fun making so many things, I was kind of glad when Tuesday came and I had to go back to work: after all, I needed to catch up on my rest.

Pumpkin Gingerbread {Recipe} {BOM}

Here is an easy, festive pumpkin bread recipe, made special by the addition of lots of ginger. For a real treat, use freshly grated ginger instead of powdered.
 
Pumpkin Gingerbread Crumb
 
INGREDIENTS:

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons ground ginger or 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice and cinnamon.
3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Still Life with Pumpkin Gingerbread