Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whole Grain Bread with Pumpkin

I've made bread with pumpkin in the past and used it as cinnamon rolls.  But thought I'd try something a little different this year.  I will tell you, once I made my first batch, I was hooked.  The pumpkin makes for a very moist and soft bread.

Bread with Pumpkin
makes 2 loaves

8 cups freshly ground flour (I used Kamut, but Prairie Gold is good too)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin, plus water to make 3 cups
1/4 c. oil
1/2 c. honey (makes a little sweeter dough :-)
1/4 c. gluten
2 Tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 tsp. salt
zest of one orange
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. mace

(or you could just use pumpkin pie spice)

Mix the water and pumpkin together in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for a minute then check temperature with thermometer.  You want to heat the pumpkin/water mixture to 130 degrees.  Once it has come to temperature, add oil, honey, about 3 cups of the flour and yeast.  Let it sponge for about 15 minutes, then begin to add remaining ingredients in your mixture.  Add only enough flour til the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.  Knead for 5-8 minutes, testing dough with window pane test for gluten development.

Then this is what you get . . . beautiful pumpkin orange dough!

At this point, you could just make 32 rolls.  And they are super scrumptious!  The spices are mild and not overpowering at all.  These will go perfect with your Thanksgiving Turkey.

Or . . . you could make the most beautiful Huge Cinnamon Roll with a Gooey Caramel Glaze

And here's how you do it:
With half of your pumpkin dough, divide this in half as well.  Roll out 1st half to about 12x16.  Brush with soft butter, then dust with some brown sugar and cinnamon.  Using a pizza cutter, cut this rectangle into 4 strips, then begin rolling.  Once you finish the first strip, take that roll and continue rolling the next strip around the first and so on until all four strips have been rolled into one big roll.

And now . . . do it again with the other half.  In the end you will have 8 16" strips of dough all wrapped up into one big cinnamon roll.

Let it rise for about 20 minutes, then bake for about 30 minutes or until temperature reaches 180-190 degrees.

For a super yummy glaze, in a saucepan melt 1/4 c. butter, then add 1/2 c. brown sugar & 2 Tablespoons heavy cream.  Cook to a boil.  Add chopped pecans if you like.  Then pour on top of warm cinnamon roll.


You could try this Cranberry Cream Cheese Braid

Here's how you do it . . .

In a mixer, blend 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, 1/2 c. sugar & 1 egg

Divide remaining dough into three parts.  Roll out one section into one long rectangle, probably 20" x 4".

Sprinkle dried cranberries down the middle and press into dough.  Then spread about 1/3 of cream cheese mixture down center of dough.  Roll up long ways making one long snake.  Be sure and crimp the edges.

Repeat with the 2 remaining sections of dough.  Then begin to braid the 3 little snakes together.

Once the braid is complete, lay it into a round baking dish or on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 350 degrees.  Cool for about 1/2 an hour so the filling sets up a bit.

Then . . . ENJOY!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blueberry Lemon Cheese Braid

Blueberries and Lemons!  Two of my very favorite flavors.  Putting them together, you can't go wrong.  But when you combine them both with cream cheese . . . Pure Heaven!

I think one of my very favorite places on earth is probably a place called Hatcher's Pass.  It's a little mountain pass not very far from Wasilla, Alaska.  We lived in the beautiful little town of Wasilla for 11years.  If you visit on one of the sea/land packages in the summer, you will pass through Wasilla on your way to Denali National Park, but you'll miss Hatchers.  Ask a local how to get there.  You'll be glad you did!  In the winter, we would drive up to Hatchers and take the kids sledding.  We'd drive a van full of kids up there, take them to the top of the trail, drop them off, then meet them at the bottom, then start all over again.  This kind of sledding is great--no hiking up and down, just speed!  The kids loved it, even when they crashed!

In the summer, however, there are a zillion beautiful trails to hike.  But in late August, it's all about the blueberries.  There are many places in Alaska to pick wild blueberries.  And if you find your perfect spot, it's kinda like a fisherman's perfect fishing hole.  You know the story . . . Where'd you catch those fish?  "In the river".  Where'd you find so many berries . . . "on the mountain".  I have so many memories with family and good friends picking up in Hatcher Pass.  The berries there are really indescribable if all you've ever had are pitiful grocery store blueberries.  They are the perfect mix of sweet and tart as well as the most perfect "bite", not at all mushy or mealy like those big beautiful deceptive grocery store berries.  (Can you tell I'm a berry snob?)

So we visit every summer now.  Always in August.  Because in August, you get to fish for silver salmon and you get to pick Blueberries.  I always bring back a few gallons.  I would bring more, but my family grows tired of blue fingers after a few days of picking.

The recipe:
about 26 ounces of dough, the equivalent of one loaf of bread
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
zest of one lemon
1 egg
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3/4 cup jarred or homemade lemon curd

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar.  Add the egg and lemon zest and blend well.  Gently stir in the blueberries.

To make the braid, just roll out the dough, about 26 ounces into a long skinny strip, probably around 18-20 inches.  Spoon the cream cheese mixture down the middle.  Drizzle the lemon curd down the middle, then swirl with a knife.  Cut slits down the sides of the dough, as pictured.

Begin your braid at the top, criss-crossing from left to right.

Once you've finished the braid, gently move to a round baking sheet.  If I had been super industrious tonight, I would have made a little bow to make it look gathered at the bottom.  Maybe on my next attempt, I'll do this.

Let your braid rise for about 20 minutes in a warm oven.  Then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

And Voilah!  I was a little aggressive with the cream cheese filling.  As you can see, it's bursting from the seams.  But you want to try it, don't you?  Once it cools a little, I will add a lemon glaze.  For the perfect glaze, just mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with the juice of one lemon.