Pumpkin Sourdough Loaf

My cousin Barb inspired me to take the plunge into the word of sourdough. I’ve not baked much bread, let alone sourdough bread, but last week I stirred together some flour and water and began my sourdough starter. I’m using the King Arthur Flour sourdough starter recipe, and as Barb said, it’s sort of like having a pet. I’ve decided to call him Horatio, which means timekeeper, and I feed him more flour and water twice a day.

Part of sourdough starter maintenance involves discarding a portion of your starter and adding more flour and water to keep the friendly bacteria and wild yeast in your mixture working together to help the starter rise. At a certain point in development, you can start to bake with your “discard,” so I decided to give it a try with this loaf, adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Pumpkin Spice Bread simply by the omission of raisins. The end result, while not as high-rising as the one in the KAF blog post photo, has a lovely spiced pumpkin flavor and nice texture.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 3/4 cup sourdough starter discard
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf tin.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together vegetable oil, sugar, molasses, eggs, pumpkin, sourdough starter discard, and vanilla. Pour into flour mixture and stir until combined, then stir in walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Store at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for several days. Makes 16 slices.

Applesauce Bread

Baking in the Time of Coronavirus will make you ask yourself interesting questions, like can I bake quick bread with whole wheat flour because I want to ration my white flour because a bunch of people who have probably never even made chocolate chip cookies before are hoarding all the white flour and my local grocery store is sold out? The answer to this question is yes.

My trusty Better Homes & Gardens Baking book has a wonderful recipe for “Make-it-Mine” muffins, which convert easily into quick bread. Make-it-mine recipes give you quantities of ingredients, then you pick the type of flour, sugar, liquid, and spices you want to use. I decided to go with an applesauce bread using apple pie spice and a combination of whole wheat flour and white flour. The flavor is delicious, but the texture is definitely drier than I’d like. This could be because of the wheat flour, but it could also be because I baked it a few minutes too long. Next time, I’ll give it a slightly shorter baking time and see what happens; I’ll also add some pecans into the batter.

Ingredients

  •  1/2 cup white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons apple pie spice, to taste
  • Streusel topping:
    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice
    • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • Drizzle icing:
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • About 2-3 teaspoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf tin.

In a medium bowl, stir together flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and apple pie spice. In another medium bowl (or large measuring cup), combine eggs, applesauce, milk, and vegetable oil. Add all at once to flour mixture and stir until just moistened, with no dry streaks of flour remaining.

Pour batter into loaf tin and allow to rest for a few minutes while you make the streusel; in a medium bowl combine flour, brown sugar, and apple pie spice. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, then sprinkle over batter.

Bake for about 35 minutes, then tent with foil and continue baking another 10 minutes or so, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool either partially or completely; you can glaze this loaf when it’s still warm (not hot) without the drizzling dripping off.

To make the drizzle, place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add water, one teaspoon at a time, until you reach a thicker drizzling consistency. Using a spoon, drizzle over the loaf. Allow to set before serving.

Store well-wrapped at room temperature for 2-3 days.

 

Orange Honey Sweet Rolls

Well, these are absolutely delicious. Not that I’m surprised; the recipe comes from my Better Homes & Gardens Baking book. And BH&G recipes have never – I repeat, never – let me down. Other sources are not so reliable, but I suspect that BH&G has the best test kitchen in the entire world. Which would make sense, when you think about it. They’ve been in business quite a long time.

My orange and honey sweet rolls are adapted just slightly from the original version, which included golden raisins in the filling and slightly less orange icing for the top. The dough is very easy to work with, which is good for amateur bread bakers like me. Next time, I might add a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg to the filling for a more aromatic treat, but these are wonderful with just the flavors of the orange and honey.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (about 105-110 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder*
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 2 cups bread flour

*I bought mine at King Arthur Flour

For the filling

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • zest of 1/2 medium orange

For the icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • zest of 1/2 medium orange
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Preparation

Place yeast and warm water in a mixing bowl and let stand for five minutes. Add dry milk powder, butter, honey, eggs, wheat germ, and salt and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl, add 2 cups plain flour, and beat on low for 30 seconds, then on high for 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl a few times during mixing.

Stir in remaining 1 cup plain flour with a wooden spoon, then stir in 1 cup bread flour. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead in as much as the remaining bread flour as you can to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes total. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to coat. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. While the dough is resting, make the filling; stir together butter, honey, and orange zest until smooth; set aside. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking tin and set aside.

Roll dough into an 18 x 15 rectangle and spread with filling, leaving a gap of about 1/2 inch around all four sides. Starting from a long side, roll the rectangle into a log and pinch the seam to seal. Cut into 15 slices and place cut-side down in the prepared baking tin. Cover and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool in tin for 1 minute, then carefully invert on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then flip onto your serving platter (or a rectangular cake caddy, which is what I used) and drizzle with orange icing. Serve warm or cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Makes 15 (though mine only made 13 because I’m terrible at math).

Mini Snickerdoodle Loaves

My friend Kanika and I met at Catholic Charities Foundation many years ago in DC. Our team had two back-to-back unsuccessful hires for the events assistant position, so we asked our priest to bless the desk and exorcise the bad luck. A few weeks later Kanika joined us (thanks, Father Mario!), bringing amazing professional skills, a great sense of humor, and a picky appetite to our crew. As a fellow picky eater, I fully supported this. We had some very funny times on that team, many thanks to her.

Kanika sends me recipe ideas sometimes, and when these mini snickerdoodle loaves came across Facebook Messenger, I knew I needed to bake them. The end result is absolutely delicious, with a tender crumb and great cinnamon flavor. I can see this recipe as a base for other flavor combinations; the original came from Health Printable Recipes, and I tweaked it just slightly based on only having 6 ounces miniature cinnamon chips in my pantry. My recipe yielded five loaves, rather than four; two of those loaves are on their way to Kanika right now. Thanks for the recipe, Marbles!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1  cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 6 ounces miniature cinnamon chips
  • About 2 tablespoons sugar, for topping
  • About 2 teaspoons cinnamon, for topping

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease five miniature loaf tins (about 5 x 3 size).

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Stir in vanilla and sour cream, then stir in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Stir in cinnamon chips and incorporate evenly, being careful not to over-mix your batter, which will be fairly thick.

Divide batter between loaf tins, filling about 2/3 full; mine had about 10 ounces of batter in each. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon, then sprinkle on top of each loaf.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and serve warm, or cool completely and store, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

Make 5 miniature loaves.

Skillet Cornbread

For some reason, people object to the word “moist.” But any baker will tell you that moistness is a crucial component of good cakes and quick breads, particularly cornbread. Having made an unfortunately dry cornbread before, I took to the internet to find a recipe for a (sorry, word haters) moist version.

Baking a Moment offered the recipe below, which I chose to bake in a cast-iron skillet. You can also use a 9 x 13 pan, but since I had the skillet, I figured, why not? Skillet baking lends a lovely, crunchy brown edge to the bread. I stored mine in my round cake caddy, and we cut slices as we wanted them, rather than cutting the whole round, for freshness. Cornbread can be reheated in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds if you’d like your butter to melt on it; I usually also serve mine with honey.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided into one 4-tablespoon portion and one 2-tablespoon portion
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

Preparation

Place 2 tablespoons butter in the bottom of your cast-iron skillet. Place the skillet in the oven and preheat to 350, allowing the butter to melt during preheating.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter and combine with milk, vegetable oil, and eggs, stirring to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Once your oven has preheated, check your skillet and carefully swirl the butter around to coat the bottom, then use a pastry brush to brush butter about halfway up the sides. Pour mixture into the skillet and bake for 35 minutes or until edges are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist (sorry, I had to) crumbs.

Cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving; store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days. Cornbread will last longer if stored, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator. Makes about 12-15 servings, depending on how big you slice it.

Sour Cream Quick Bread – Spice Version

Sometimes you think of something brilliant the moment you put a bake in the oven and hope you’ll remember for next time. Adapting my lemon poppy seed sour cream quick bread to a version with apple pie spice and chopped pecans presented me with a liquid dilemma. I couldn’t use juice, like in the original recipe, so I went with milk instead.  But the moment I closed the oven door, I thought that applesauce, or better yet grated apples, would have been a great choice instead.

Truth be told, although this bread is very tasty, texture-wise it’s a bit too dry for my liking. Next time, I’ll go with either applesauce or grated apples and see what happens. This is one of the many benefits of baking; you’re always learning something new.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons apple pie spice
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 3 teaspoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan or spray with baking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and apple pie spice in a large bowl; set aside. Combine sour cream, egg, vegetable oil, and milk in a medium bowl, mixing well.

Add sour cream mixture to flour mixture all at once, stirring to combine until no dry streaks remain. Stir in chopped pecans. Your batter will look a bit dry, but that’s normal.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, then cover with a foil tent and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the spice drizzle by combining powdered sugar, apple pie spice, and water in a small bowl. Pour over top of bread; allow to harden before storing.

Store tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days. Makes about 8 servings.

Sour Cream Quick Bread – Lemon Poppy Seed Version

Every baker needs a few good quick bread recipes, and this is one of mine. Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe, this bread provides a great base for a number of flavor combinations, and today’s combination is lemon and poppy seed.

This bread is on its way to my friend Carrie, because now and then we all just need someone to send us baked goods, right? We’re both Eastern European, so poppy seeds are kind of the seeds of our people. Lemon poppy is a great flavor combination, of course; you could enhance this bread with a lemon drizzle icing, or just serve it with some lemon curd, whatever you like. I’m betting it will be delicious with Earl Grey tea, too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan or spray with baking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Combine lemon zest and juice, sour cream, egg, and vegetable oil in a medium bowl, mixing well.

Add sour cream mixture to flour mixture all at once, stirring to combine until no dry streaks remain. Your batter may look a bit dry, but that’s okay – don’t be tempted to add more liquid. Stir in poppy seeds.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, then cover with a foil tent and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Store tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days. Makes about 8 servings.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread in March? Yes! Thanks to canned pumpkin puree, I bake with pumpkin throughout the year. This recipe is an adaptation of pumpkin pecan streusel bread, simply using miniature cinnamon baking chips instead of pecans and streusel.

I got my mini chips at King Arthur Flour, which offers a great variety of ingredients. My chips melted during baking, as you can see from the photo to the left; they left behind sort of ghost marks of where they’d been, but that didn’t stop their flavor from permeating the loaf. This is an excellent recipe, easy to bake and very tasty when done. You could leave the loaf plain, but I find that the allspice glaze really adds more depth of flavor to this treat.

Ingredients

For the bread

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus an extra dash if you like
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup miniature cinnamon chips

For the allspice drizzle

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2-3 teaspoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 x 4 or 9 x 5 loaf pan or spray with baking spray; I used a 9 x 5 for this recipe.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

In a separate, medium-sized bowl whisk melted butter, eggs, and pumpkin puree until well-combined.

Add pumpkin mixture to dry mixture and stir to incorporate so that no dry streaks remain, then stir in cinnamon chips.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. You’ll want to check the bread around 35-40 minutes and may want to cover it with a foil tent to prevent over-browning.

Remove from oven and cool in loaf pan for about 30 minutes, then remove from pan and place on a wire rack. Cool another 15 minutes, then make the drizzle: in a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and allspice. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring until you have a smooth, thick drizzle. Pour drizzle into a medium-sized zip-top bag; snip the corner, then pipe drizzle over top of bread (or just spoon it on if you prefer).

Allow to cool completely before serving; store well-wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Blood Orange Muffins

This weekend’s blood orange extravaganza continues with these tasty blood orange muffins. And I learned today that mixing beautiful crimson blood orange juice with powdered sugar will yield something that looks more like raspberry icing. It tastes good though, and that’s all that matters.

Muffins can be a great way to use up fruit curd, especially the homemade kind that isn’t meant to keep for weeks at a time. I’m glad I added some zest to the batter as well, as it really lightens up the muffins and gives them a nice delicate citrus flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup blood orange curd
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 blood orange
  • 4 teaspoons blood orange juice
  • About 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two muffin tins with paper liners; this recipe makes 16 muffins.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine beaten eggs, milk, curd, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and zest and stir to completely combine. Add all at once to dry ingredients and stir just until no dry streaks remain.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into muffin tins. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until tops are just golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven, then remove from tins and place on wire racks to cool.

To make icing, combine juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Place in a zip-top bag and snip off the end to pipe, or just drizzle with a spoon. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Maple Oat Whole Wheat Bread

Bread baking requires a different set of skills and instincts than I currently possess. Need a cookie? I’m your gal. But bring things like yeast, kneading, and resting into the mix and I feel a bit like I’m back in kindergarten.

Anyone trying to call herself a baker really needs to know how to make a decent loaf of bread, and so I’ve entered a new era of experimentation: yeast breads. Fortunately the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion offers a host of tips and tricks for novices like me, and I’m reading as much as I can; this recipe is their Vermont whole wheat oatmeal maple-honey bread, which I made with maple sugar and regular whole wheat flour, as opposed to white whole wheat as the recipe stated. These loaves smelled amazing while they baked, but I wasn’t as happy with how they turned out texture-wise. Perhaps it was the regular whole wheat flour? Mike loved them, so I guess that doesn’t matter.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup traditional rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

Preparation

In your mixing bowl, combine water, oats, maple sugar, honey, butter, maple extract, and salt. Let cool to lukewarm.

Add the yeast and flours, stirring with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Fit the dough hook onto your mixer and mix for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1 hour; I set my bowl of dough on a towel-wrapped heating pad, set on its lowest setting.

Gently deflate your dough and divide it in half, then shape each half into a loaf. Place loaves in two lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pans.

Cover loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow loaves to rise until they’ve risen about 1 inch above the rim of the pan – about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves for 35-40 minutes; check them around 25 minutes and place a tent of foil over their tops if they’re browning already to avoid burning. Remove from oven when they’re golden brown; you can also use a thermometer to test internal temperature, which should be 190 degrees.

Remove from loaf pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Store well-wrapped at room temperature for several days, or freeze for future use.

Makes two loaves.