Posts Tagged With: pumpkin

Pumpkin and Rosemary Braided Bread

Autumn has finally descended upon my neck of the woods (so to speak) and with it, the arrival of “all things pumpkin” as the Internet (and Starbucks…and Trader Joe’s) tends to tout.  I will freely admit that I have a sweet spot for pumpkin – its flavors hint at nostalgia without the tears.  My roommate, after a Trader Joe’s run, returned home with pumpkin soup, pumpkin chai tea, pumpkin rooibus tea…and then there was me with my gigantic can of pumpkin purée.

The question is, however, what can you do with pumpkin puree that is new and exciting ?  I’ve made the muffins, I’m made the quickbread, and the pie has a place on a Thanksgiving table.

So began the hunt for a new way to use pumpkin.  I knew I wanted something more on the savory side…like…a dinner roll !  A yeast bread !  Hm !

I found a great recipe from the King Arthur Flour webpage- a simple google search will bring you there (I may have misplaced the link…).  I modified it slightly – the recipe here is halved but makes LOTS of bread (I snuck two medium loaves from these quantities) and I added honey, rosemary, and salt to the mix.  An experiment, the work paid off (nibble nibble nibble) because it tastes just sweet enough to be paired with honey butter or even a marmalade OR a savory dish with chicken or a sauce.  Oo.  Asiago cheese would probably pair well with this concoction as well.  The possibilities are endless !

A wonderfully soft texture and a rich color to boot, this recipe is worth the time and will certainly have a spot on my Thanksgiving table…or my kitchen table.  🙂

For the dough :

1/4 cup warm water
1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large eggs, beaten
1 cups puréed pumpkin, either fresh or canned
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups (approximately) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
A few shakes of ground ginger
3 pinches rosemary

For the glaze :

1 egg yolk,
Some water
Some honey
Some rosemary
Some salt

In a large bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, yeast, ginger and rosemary.

Stir to combine well.  Add the warm water and begin to stir.  In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and milk.

Be sure to allow the pumpkin and eggs to reach room temperature before combining with the other wet ingredients.  Also, the milk should be warmed – yeast likes a warm environment because it stimulates their life cycle/reactions.  And we want those little yeasties to have a party in our bread dough !

Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add about 1/2 cups more of flour (or more) until the dough is tough enough to knead.  Mine looked like this and it worked out well.


Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.  This took me about 10 minutes for me, but knead until you can mold it into a ball without difficulty OR extremely messy fingers.

When you are kneading bread, you are creating gluten networks between the starch molecules.  This changes the texture and facilitates the trapping of the gas released by the little yeasties.  Food.  It’s snazzy.

Place dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a towel (or a plastic bag), letting it rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  If it rises for longer, it won’t be an issue.  But an hour is certainly enough time to get a fantastic reaction out of the dough.

When ready, turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Divide dough in half – I did not because I didn’t think I would have such a huge loaf of bread so I have two uneven loaves SO do yourself a favor and split it up). This bread can easily be shaped into loaves or dinner roles…but I thought a braid would be more elegant given the rich color of the dough.

Braiding is actually simple (though it looks tough).  Start by spreading the dough out into a large rectangular shape (photos to follow).  Using a sharp knife, make 4 long cuts in the dough – you are essentially creating a giant jellyfish, with the bit you are cutting turning into tentacles.  (Please excuse the metaphor.  I’m an English minor).  When you make the cuts, LEAVE THE TOP CONNECTED.  You’ll see what I mean in the photos.  Reshape the tentacles so that they are even and then braid them !  Braiding with five is easy – just pull the outside layer from the left to the inside, then the outermost RIGHT side layer to the inside, then left to the inside and right to the inside blablabla until BAM !  You have a giant braid on your hands.  For the last part, just twist them and tuck them under the end of the braid. (The photos are with four strands because I didn’t have an assistant when I did five…)  Pow.  Like magic, you have a snazzy looking loaf of bread.

Lay the bread on a well-oiled baking sheet.  Mix together the egg and water and brush over the top of the bread.  Drizzle honey over the top of the braid, followed by a sprinkling of rosemary and some sea salt crystals.

Let rise for about 45 minutes or until nice and puffy.  Place in the oven and let cook for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  The bread will NOT sound hollow when cooked, as it is very soft, but I just used my nose.  You can also use a thermometer to test the “doneness” of the bread (I believe it’s 190F….might want to check on that as I possess not such a thermometer.)

Serve nice and hot with melted butter…or place on your table (with a TARDIS !) and let your roommates devour it.  🙂

Bon appétit !

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Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins

Sometimes, you just have a bad day.
And I mean a terrible day.
Nothing goes right, you’re cranky, irritable, fed-up and frustrated.
So was Monday of this past week…an evening spent ignoring all homework, unable to focus, glued to facebook….

What does any of this have to do with cooking ?

EVERYTHING!

Because had I not been so downright pissed, I wouldn’t have made these muffins which you are about to discover – the best cure for a case of the grumpies : Pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins.  My mom often made this during the month of October (or just in autumn really) as a treat for my sister and I when we got back from school after a rough morning, so I figured they would be my best bet at regaining a little joie de vivre.   These muffins, best served warm, are an excellent compliment to a cup of tea on a chilly afternoon.  The pumpkin is accentuated nicely by a blend of spices, often called “pumpkin pie spice,” consisting of ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.  So – get rid of that awful day ! Roll up your sleeves, grease the muffin tin, and get some cheap (cooking) therapy.

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Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins

1 3/4 cups of flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 cup of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Before mixing anything together – make sure to grease the muffin tin. Muffins are funny – unlike cupcakes, they do not have handy little liners to ensure a clean escape from the pan.  As a result, they often stick and refuse removal.  Do yourself a favor – even if you have a nonstick pan, use the wrapper form the stick of butter you are going to melt and just quickly wipe the inside of each cup.  You can also use a nonstick spray, such as Pam, to oil the tin.In one bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt (if desired) and pumpkin pie spice.OH !  A word on that spice mixture.  Pumpkin pie spice can be bought in supermarkets but I rarely have it on hand simply because I like to “personalize” my spice blends.  The spices involved here are CLOVES, CINNAMON, NUTMEG and GINGER and maybe ALLSPICE.  Ground cloves are very strong – a little goes a long way.  Nutmeg is a spice that is used in both sweet AND savory dishes and goes very well with fruits.  Cinnamon is fairly common – I tend to add more cinnamon than called for in a recipe as I find the flavor pleasant.  Ginger is the star of items like gingerbread (surprise) in the baking world and asian cuisine in the cooking world.  Like cloves, it tends to be powerful so again – less is more.   I love cloves and nutmeg, so I am more heavy-handed with these spices in my recipes.  You have been warned.

SO – if you have these lovely additions on hand in your kitchen, add the following amounts to the flour mixture :

2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger

Mix the dry ingredients together so that they are well-incorporated and set this aside.

On the stovetop (on in the microwave…), melt the butter.  Measure out the pumpkin and put this in a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter to the pumpkin, mixing well.  Continually stirring, pour the sugar into the pumpkin mixture, stirring until the mixture has lightened slightly and looks smooth.  To this, add both eggs and vanilla, again stirring until everything is uniform.

Take the dry ingredients and fold them into the wet ingredients, mixing until JUST COMBINED.  The tough bit about muffins is…well…they can get tough.  Literally.  Over-mixing the dough will make for an unpleasantly dense and almost elastic texture that should be avoided.

Add the chocolate chips.  The recipe suggests 1 cup – I say it’s your call.  If you love chocolate, go ahead and add a bit more. If you prefer pumpkin, do not add as many.  Simple.  🙂

Using a spatula, slowly portion out the dough into the muffin cups.  Be careful not to fill each cup to the brim as it will overflow and consequently burn.  Regular muffin pans are a pain to wash…burned ones are a nightmare SO this is to be avoided.  I suggest filling each cup until about 2/3 full.  If you have extra batter (it happens) fill the muffins on the edges, rather than the middle, first.  These will have a tendency to cook faster and therefore if fuller than the muffins on the inside, will not be dry.

Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the muffins are springy to the touch.  Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before removing or eating.  If you attempt to take them out right away, they might fall apart.  Better to err on the safe side.  Also – you’ll burn your tongue.  Can’t you hear your mother now ?

Happy nibbling !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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