Oct 262016
 

Pumpkin yeast bread

It’s fall and the pumpkin spice must flow. Only, a person can get tired of all the cloyingly sweet applications. Don’t get me wrong: I love the cookies, the quick-breads, the martinis, and the occasional half-the-syrup latte. And the pie! The pie will soon be upon us! After a while though, I yearn for something more savory.

Enter a bread from Whole Foods that I’ve adored for years. It’s savory, but still spiced like familiarity craves, soft, delicious, and divine — utterly divine — as a vehicle for runny egg yolk. The problems are two-fold: a) being from Whole Foods, it’s exorbitantly expensive, and b) they don’t roll it out until Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving!!! Where is the sense in that, I ask?! No one else waits until Thanksgiving to bring out their pumpkin amazingness!

Clearly, it was time for me to take matters into my own hands.

There were plenty of unknowns (what is the hydration of the loaf? How exactly does pumpkin affect the hydration percentage of a dough?) but enough knowns (thank you, ingredient label) for me to get a good start. And to borrow a phrase from my favorite wild-yeast baker, this is bread, not birth control, so it doesn’t have to be perfect while I figure out how to get the recipe just right. I figured out that one cup of pumpkin puree roughly replaces one cup of flour AND one cup of liquid (that was a surprise!) and looked to Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challah for inspiration for a soft-yet-brown-crusted dairy-free loaf.

After plenty of tweaking and enlisting my family and friends (thank you to the Om-nom-sauce family, my mom, Heather, and Crystal) as test-bakers and guinea pigs, I’ve settled upon a loaf that I’ll proudly serve, and which has served to spawn even more inspiration through the endless possibilities of variations. I hope you love this loaf as much as I do!

Pumpkin yeast bread

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May 052013
 
Pumpkin biscuits!

Pumpkin biscuits!

Last month, my favorite Adventure Buddy Heather (of Cheeseburger in Glacial Ice) came to visit. As tends to happen when we get together, all sorts of ridiculously awesome food flows forth. I mean, you should see the food we eat when we’re backpacking together — ptarmigan breasts with quinoa, beef burgundy, pumpkin pie, all from scratch, natch, and either made entirely at home or foraged for in the field — so it’s no surprise when we go overboard with the fancy-pants cooking when we’re together in the midst of civilization. We always seem to re-discover that food doesn’t need to be fussy to be amazing (backpacking ‘sketti is one proof of this) and these biscuits are truly an example of that. I asked her to guest-post over here to write up those eminently awesome creations that she whipped up, so without further ado, I give you Heather!

Pumpkin biscuits drizzled with fireweed honey

Pumpkin biscuits drizzled with fireweed honey

A few months ago I was driving around with the radio tuned to NPR when they began interviewing Nathalie Dupree about her new book, Southern Biscuits. I was enthralled by this interview – so much so that when I got to where I was going, I sat in the car listening until it was over. Later, I informed The Husband that we live in the South now (temporarily, please), and therefore I needed to learn how to make biscuits and HINT HINT this book would be an awesome way to do that HINT HINT. Well, one of those hints made it through his usual masculine oblivousness (probably the one where I said “Honey, get this for me as a present”) and on my birthday I unwrapped this cookbook.

I was fairly busy at the time and didn’t get a chance to crack it open, but a few weeks down the road I was packing to visit Stacey and I figured I’d throw it in. As you can imagine, when Stacey and I are in the same place, somehow all sorts of delicious food magically appears. Well, as it happened, we ran into a little problem right off the bat. See, it’s easy enough to swap out the butter for lard, but the recipes kept calling for milk. Or yogurt. Or cream. Or soda, but Stacey wasn’t too keen on that even if it was dairy-free.

Then, on page 120, we found it: Pumpkin Biscuits.

Self-rising flour. Lard. Pumpkin puree. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Completely dairy-free. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

These biscuits were absolutely delicious. Soft and chewy, just a hint of spices. Drizzle a bit of fireweed honey atop, or perhaps a slice of sharp cheddar if you don’t need to go the dairy-free route, and you’re in heaven. They are equally good the next morning, toasted in bacon fat with a poached egg atop. What are you waiting for?

Left-over pumpkin biscuits toasted in bacon fat and topped with poached eggs

Left-over pumpkin biscuits toasted in bacon fat and topped with poached eggs

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Oct 092007
 

Pumpkin spice cookies

This recipe is one that’s been near and dear to me for nearly my whole life. My Mom originally clipped it out of a newspaper and it’s grown up with me, going through different changes as I changed too.

Originally we made these cookies huge and round with little pumpkin stems and lavished icing and sprinkles upon them like festive, sweet, sticky jack-o-lanterns. Needless to say, they never lasted long.

My copy of the beloved recipeYears later as my brother and I grew out of the whole Halloween thing, these cookies stuck around (of course!) Now that having a good smooth icing canvas was no longer necessary, chocolate chips made their way into the cookies. They marred the formerly glasslike (well, for a cookie) surface but dude, it was chocolate. Yum! My parents would send these cookies to me in my care packages at college, and they brought back memories of childhood the way that only really good comfort foods can do.

They just might be the best cookie ever.

Click for the recipe →

Aug 042007
 
Pumpkin waffles

When I woke up this morning i was craving something yummy and delicious and different than my usual oatmeal. Pancakes were sounding pretty delicious, but despite my large collection of health food and whole grain cookbooks, I failed to find a recipe that met my criteria whole ingredients I already had in my pretty well-stocked pantry and fridge (curses on forgetting to buy milk last time I was at the market!) exactly what I was looking for. Then I remembered a recipe that I had discovered around last Thanksgiving.

I’m, well, a pumpkin fiend, and this recipe had some whole grains in it, so it was looking like a strong contender. And luckily, it called for soy milk (something I always keep on hand for oatmeal) instead of the from-cow variety. We have a winner!

Now might be a good time to expound on the flour I used. No, white whole-wheat is not in any way related to the nutritionally devoid all-purpose flour or flour used to make white bread. It is an honest-to-god whole grain flour with all the bran and germ, but made with a different variety of wheat. Most flour comes from red wheat, which is a more strongly wheaty-tasting (and more bitter or sour to some tastebuds) flour when ground in its whole state. White whole-wheat flour is more mild and can be more readily substituted into baked goods. So when I was making these waffles in which I use a fairly heavy hand with the pumpkin pie spices, I wanted the pumpkin and the spice flavors to shine, not the wheat. Since I didn’t want to sacrifice the nutrition, white whole wheat was the clear choice.

White whole wheat flour is a little more difficult to find but it is gaining in popularity since at least a few Americans want to use more healthy grains but aren’t gaga over the way whole-wheat flour tastes. I use King Arthur Flour’s variety, but Hodgson Mill and and Bob’s Red Mill also produce it.

The flavor results of the flour substitution? Undetectable. This recipe definitely hits the spot.

Pumpkin waffles

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