Category Archives: Bread and Rolls

Pumpkin Bread

What is there to say about pumpkin bread? Everybody loves it, right? I do. Everyone I talk to does. Let’s just get to the point. Pumpkin bread is the perfect thing to make at this time of year because it’s warm and spicy and delicious. It’s also really quick and easy to put together. I’ve made a loaf for two weeks in a row and probably going on a third. You’ll be making this weekly too. Assuming you can wait that long.

On a side note, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, and I know I said that last time too. I’ll tell you now that it might be a while until the next update too, but once the holidays hit – I’M BACK BABY! I’m graduating in December and then I’m free! Well, actually, I have an internship for the spring then I’ll hopefully be starting grad school next year. But in the months between when I finish school and start school again, I’ll be baking like it’s my job (if only). So hold tight for a few months (scary!). I’ll see you again soon!

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Epicurious

 Ingredients

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ large eggs (beat the 2nd with a fork then pour half in)
  • ½ 16 oz. can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pans or 8×8-inch pan. Beat granulated and brown sugars and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Mix in walnuts, if using. Pour into pan and sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar, if using. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes for loaf pan, or about 45 minutes for an 8×8 pan. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Note: This recipe is halved from the original, which is why there are funky measurements for the eggs and pumpkin. Feel free to double.

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Blueberry Scones

I love Valentine’s Day. I know some people hate it because they think it’s a holiday invented to sell cards and candy. So what if it is! I like cards. I like candy. Why shouldn’t there be a day designated to giving and receiving them? I also love baking Valentine’s treat for friends, especially the the ones who are particularly grumpy and cynical.

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret: if you make something in the shape of a heart, it is automatically appropriate for Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t need to be red and pink (even if it does look more festive that way). It doesn’t need to be chocolate (although, who ever said “no” to chocolate). All you need is a heart-shaped cookie cutter or heart-shaped mold and you are good to go.

Blueberry Scones
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

I use frozen blueberries in these because they’re always available but if the berries are too big they may not work well if you cut the scones too small. The original recipe called for dried currants so I think dried blueberries could be a nice swap too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times. (If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps.)

If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Transfer dough to large bowl.

Add berries then stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form. Knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Add a little extra cream if it is too dry. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a 3/4-inch thick circle. Cut pieces with a biscuit cutter, and then gather remaining scraps and continue cutting until dough has been used up. Brush the tops of the scones with additional cream and sprinkle with raw sugar. (You could also cut the disk into eight wedges. If you do this you can brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar before cutting which makes the process, and cookie sheet, a little cleaner).

Place rounds or wedges on parchment lined baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 wedges or as many shapes as you can cut out

Very Buttery Croissants

Have you ever thought about making croissants? Does anyone besides me actually have thoughts like that? Well maybe you have, and probably, like me, you had seconds thoughts once you actually read the recipe. Yes, “laminated dough” is a scary term. Yes, there’s a lot of butter. Yes, there are many steps and lots of time involved. All these things are true, but having found myself with three weeks of free time and no plans, I decided this was my chance. Having now made the croissants, I can tell you that it’s not as scary or difficult at is sounds. It does take a lot of time, but, like most yeast dough, much of the time is inactive.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t follow this recipe exactly as written. This is not something I recommend, especially with recipes you’re trying for the first time. I didn’t do it on purpose! That sounds defensive, doesn’t it? You’re not even judging me, are you? I shouldn’t be this paranoid on vacation.

I made a few changes to the original recipe and still ended up with delicious, buttery, flaky croissants. I used active dry yeast instead of instant, but I also let my dough hang out in the fridge for a couple of days after making the turns which I think gave it enough time to proof.  My dough also ended up being really wet. The instructions say that the dough is ready when it sticks to itself more than it sticks to the bowl. Well, I thought I had reached that stage, but when I went to unwrap it from the plastic wrap later that day, I found that I was sadly mistaken. I found some other croissant recipes that were nearly identical except that they had nearly a cup more flour, so that’s how I’ll suggest you do it.  I didn’t have whole milk so I used 2 percent with a splash of heavy cream. I also forgot the 2 tablespoons of butter that you’re supposed to add directly to the dough, rendering these croissants “reduced fat” (ha!).

Seriously people, you can do this! I have faith in you. P.S. I know the croissants in the pictures look a little, ahem, toasty. I made the croissants smaller than the original recipe suggested but neglected to reduce baking time. Following the directions below should give you lovely, golden brown croissants.

Croissants
Adapted from Baking Illustrated

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups flour plus 2 tbsps (and more as needed)
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk (or 2% with a splash of cream)
  • 3 sticks butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces and kept cold
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions

  1. Whisk together 3 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Place milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add flour mixture to the milk and knead at low speed until a smooth ball forms, about 8 or 9 minutes. Add more flour as necessary. You want the dough to be sticky but not so wet that it will not come off of the plastic wrap. Wrap the dough in plastic sand refrigerate for an hour.
  2. On a clean work surface, toss butter with 2 tablespoons of flour. Using a bench scraper, smear the butter back and forth against the work surface until they have combined into a smooth, homogenous mixture. Wrap the butter in plastic and use the plastic to shape the butter into a 7-inch square. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Dust work surface with flour and roll dough out into an 11-inch square. Place the butter square diagonally on top of the dough so that the corner of the butter square points to the edge of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough in so they met in the center and pinch the ends of the dough together to seal it.
  4. Using the rolling pin, gently tap the dough, starting from the center and going outwards until the square gets larger and the butter begins to soften. Gently roll out into a 14-inch square, making sure that dough isn’t sticking to the work surface and dusting with additional flour as needed. Fold the square into thirds, like a business letter, then in thirds again so you have a square. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. Repeat step 4 and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place chilled dough on a floured surface and roll out into a 20-inch square. Cut the dough into three equal rectangles then cut each rectangle into thirds. Cut each rectangle on the diagonal to yield a total of 18 triangles. Lift each triangle with the base (the short side) in one hand and the tip in the other and gently stretch. Cut a 1-inch slit in the center of the base. Fold the two sides of the slit outward and roll the triangle, gently stretching the dough as you roll, leaving the last ¼ inch unrolled. Gently transfer the croissant to the prepared baking sheet and curl the ends towards each other to form a crescent shape. Repeat with the remaining triangles.
  7. Cover croissants loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until puffy, 45 to 60 minutes
  8. Adjust over racks to the top and lower middle positions and heat oven to 400°. Brush the croissants with beaten egg and bake until golden brown 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through cooking. Cool the croissants on a wire rack until warm, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Croissants will keep at room temperature for 2 days.

Makes 18 croissants

Garlic Bread (with spaghetti and meatballs)

Boys love meatballs.

Well maybe not all boys love meatballs, but all American boys love meatballs.

Alright not all American boys love meatballs, but American boys that come from Italian families love meatballs.

I’m almost certain about that last one, but in case it isn’t true at least I know for a fact that the American boy from an Italian family that I cook dinner for most often loves meatballs.

I’m not going to tell you how to make meatballs today. What a tease! I am going to tell you that you shouldn’t have spaghetti and meatballs without garlic bread. It’s just not right.

So here’s what you do: Get a baguette. Split it in half lengthwise. Spread it GENEROUSLY with butter (it helps if you let the butter sit out on the counter for a while first so that it’s soft). Sprinkle the top with as much garlic powder as you want. This amount will vary depending on your tastes and what your plans are for later that evening. Then just stick it in an oven set to 425 degrees or so. Bake until the bread is nice and toasty and delicious looking.

You can sprinkle the top with chopped parsley if you’re feeling fancy, but you could also just slice it up and eat it if you’re feeling more hungry than you are fancy. If you’re feeling especially hungry and especially non-fancy you could skip the slicing step all together. Oh yes.