Tag Archives: pumpkin

Snow Day Soft Pretzels

Full disclosure: where I live, we haven’t had a snow day this winter. The only snow I even came into contact with was when we played with store bought snowballs at the Frozen birthday party I attended this weekend–while wearing flip flops. When the temperature dropped overnight and I had a teeny bit of ice to scrape off my windshield this morning I had to search my garage for an ice scraper. So I personally don’t need snow day activities. However, growing up in the Northeast US, we had plenty of snow days and I’m sure my mom was always looking for random things to keep me and my siblings occupied (and this was before the days of Pinterest. Gasp!).

Snow Day Soft Pretzels

But while weather hasn’t been a challenge for me this winter, my husband has been out of town for almost 6 weeks for work so I’ve still been trying to come up with creative ways to entertain my toddler son in the evenings and on weekends and one of my favorite ways to do that is in the kitchen. I love to cook and bake, he loves to eat and “help” in the kitchen. So we’ve made lots of smoothies, we’ve made flavored popcorn, we’ve made pizza from scratch, and my new favorite is soft pretzels.

Snow Day Soft Pretzels

For a while I was on a soft pretzel kick from the cafeteria at work. They’re not even all that good from there, but the crispy salty exterior with the soft chewy inside is definitely comforting. Homemade ones, though, especially when fresh out of the oven and brushed with melted butter, totally hit the spot. There are a number of ways to make baking these pretzels educational (in additional to delicious) for your kiddos too. Older kids can help with the measuring process while making the dough, lots of math skills there, or watching the yeast ferment (yay biology). My son is too young for those concepts, but we form the pretzels into various shapes and letters so he can practice his alphabet and shapes. He also loves topping them with salt or cinnamon sugar and brushing them with butter which are great fine motor skills practice for toddlers. In the end, we’re left with a tasty treat which makes everyone happy.

So warm up your insides with these easy and delicious Snow Day Soft Pretzels. (PS I was able to make these after work and still have pretzels ready to eat before bedtime).

Snow Day Soft Pretzels

______________________________

Snow Day Soft Pretzels (adapted from Baking Bread the Way Mom Taught me)

Yield: 16 pretzels

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

1 1/2 tablespoons honey, divided

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 cups water, divided

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 tablespoon baking soda

Coarse salt and/or cinnamon sugar, for topping

Directions:

  1. Combine yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of honey, and lukewarm water in a small bowl. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Meanwhile, heat milk, 1/2 cup water, and 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan until hot. Transfer to a large mixing bowl (of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook if possible).
  3. To the mixing bowl, add the remaining honey, salt, and 1 cup of flour and blend thoroughly. Mix in the egg, then the yeast.
  4. Add in the baking powder and the rest of the flour, little by little, mixing with the dough hook after each addition. Continue kneading with the dough hook for 5-10 minutes until the dough forms a ball, and is smooth and no longer sticky.
  5. Place the oil in another mixing bowl. Coat the ball of dough in the oil, then set in the mixing bowl, cover with a towel, and set aside in a warm area to rise for 1 hour.
  6. After the dough has risen, punch down the dough then place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes (up to 2 hours).
  7. Place the baking soda and remaining 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and heat until the baking soda is dissolved (can omit this step but the toppings may stick less well)
  8. Remove from the refrigerator and divide into 16 pieces (can divide into fewer pieces for larger pretzels).
  9. Roll each piece of dough into a long snake then shape as desired, into a pretzel knot, alphabet letter, shape, etc.
  10. Dunk the pretzel into the baking soda/water mixture and if still hot, remove using a slotted spoon. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat. Top with coarse salt, cinnamon sugar, or any other desired toppings.
  11. Cover with a towel and let rise for 15 minutes while the oven is preheating to 400F.
  12. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  13. Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Best enjoyed warm.

______________________________

 

What's Baking Badge

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I know, I know, everything is pumpkin this time of year. But fall really is my favorite season and pumpkin plays a big role in that. Unfortunately we don’t have much of a New England style fall here in the southern US, and I greatly miss the gorgeous foliage and crisp fall air, but I can infuse some autumn atmosphere into my life with pumpkin goodness. And this Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread sure does bring goodness!

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

This is my first chance to join in with the “What’s Baking” group and the theme for the month was pumpkin. Can you tell I was disappointed? Ha. I was super excited because I absolutely love baking with pumpkin. I buy cans and cans of pumpkin puree each fall and try to test out a few new recipes each year. My first for this year was this pumpkin bread. I’ve made different pumpkin breads before but this one just takes the cake. This recipe is adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book so I was pretty sure it was going to be a winner and it did not disappoint. The streusel topping to the bread lends a surprising and delightful texture and crunch. The cream cheese and buttermilk make this cake moist and counteract the sometimes metallic taste you can get from pumpkin baked goods after using canned pumpkin puree. Perfection!

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

This recipe made two glorious loaves of pumpkin bread. I brought one to work and it was devoured rather quickly. Comments included “other worldly” and “two enthusiastic thumbs up.” Yes folks, I’m not making these reviews up. So you have got to try this recipe this pumpkin season. And I sure do hope to share some more pumpkin treats with you…if my colleagues don’t eat them all before I get photos!

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

______________________________

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book)

Yield: 2 loaves

For the topping:

5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

For the bread:

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 15 ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

4 ounces cream cheese (low-fat works fine), cut into 12 pieces

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

¼ cup buttermilk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl. Work together with your fingers until the consistency is like coarse sand. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare 2 loaf pans (9×5-inch) with nonstick spray.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda in bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened and reduced, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese, sugars, and oil. Stir slightly to start the cream cheese melting, then let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Beat the eggs and buttermilk together in a bowl, then stir into the pumpkin mixture. Fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and whisk until all the ingredients are combined and the consistency is homogenous.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle the topping over each loaf.
  8. Bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean (may have some melted chocolate), about 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool for another hour.

______________________________

If you love pumpkin like I do, find more pumpkin recipes on the Dinner Pages! Happy fall!

 

What's Baking Badge

Pumpkin Pancakes

I didn’t lie when I said there would be more pumpkin recipes on the way! In order to use up the leftover pumpkin from the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins and make my family a yummy Sunday breakfast I modified our typical pancake recipe to create these pumpkin pancakes. I like this particular pancake recipe because it doesn’t require buttermilk, which I don’t always keep on hand, or any wait time in the refrigerator because even on weekends we still don’t have lots of spare time to wait on breakfast with a hungry toddler at my feet!

I use the Cuisinart Griddler to make pancakes. It has revolutionized pancakes in our household! Before that, no matter which recipe I tried or which pan I used, they all came out misshapen, unevenly cooked, and just flat out disappointing. This is one of those situations which the equipment matters as much as the recipe. While the non-stick griddle was heating I combined flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a bowl. To that I added milk, pumpkin puree, an egg, melted butter, and vanilla. The original recipe also called for sugar, which I omitted (accidentally) but I don’t think it really needed it. I’ll include it in the recipe below in case you have a sweet(er) tooth! I whisked it all together and then dropped approximately 1/4 cups of batter onto the griddle. Once bubbles formed, I flipped them over, then cooked until golden brown on both sides.

No syrup needed for these pancakes as they have so much flavor on their own though my husband did enjoy them with some apple butter. It was a lovely start to our Sunday!

DSC_0333

______________________________
Pumpkin Pancakes

Yield: 18 medium pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 1/4 cups milk (I used coconut milk today but I’ve used skim and whole milk previously which have been just fine)

1 large egg

3 tablespoons melted butter

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon vanilla

The Recipe

1. Heat a non-stick griddle (I set my electric griddle as high as it goes)

2. In a large bowl, place the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar (if using), cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and whisk together.

3. Add the wet ingredients, milk, egg, butter, pumpkin, and vanilla, to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.

4. Drop 1/4 cups of batter a few inches apart on the griddle and cook until bubbles form on the surface. Then flip over and continue cooking until cooked through and golden brown. Serve right away.

______________________________

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yes, I know that everything is pumpkin this time of year but I can’t help jumping on the bandwagon because I really do love pumpkin! We had plans to visit some good friends a few hours away this afternoon and I wanted to bake a treat to bring them but didn’t have a lot of time before we needed to get on the road. Muffins fit the bill well. Yummy fall flavors without a ton of prep work or long baking time.

After preheating the oven to 400F and readying my muffin tin, I got down to baking. In a large bowl I combined the dry ingredients, all-purpose flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, salt, ground cinnamon, a pinch of ground cloves, and grated nutmeg. Ground nutmeg would work fine too but the flavor from the freshly grated nutmeg is amazing so I try to always grate it if I have time.

In another bowl I whisked together the wet ingredients, eggs, whole milk, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, a stick of melted unsalted butter, and vanilla. I then added a cup of canned pumpkin purée.

I combined the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and stirred until just moistened. I added in a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips then divided the batter among the 16 muffin cups.

DSC_0320

DSC_0325

I baked them for 22 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center came out clean.

Pumpkin may be trendy this month but there’s a good reason why…it’s delicious!! I can’t promise there won’t be more pumpkin recipes to come here at The Dinner Pages over the next few weeks. Until we move into gingerbread season. Mmmmmm….

DSC_0330

_____________________________
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

Yield: 16 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Recipe
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Prepare muffins tins with 16 paper liners or nonstick cooking spray
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, melted butter, brown sugar, the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the pumpkin purée.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Add in the chocolate chips.
5. Divide the batter among the muffins cups. Bake for 22 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
______________________________

%d bloggers like this: