Sweet Home cookbook
There’s nothing like the bittersweet smell of fall signaling cold winter nights ahead. The scent of the crisp air is tinged with burning fires and falling leaves. When baking, this fragrant bread with its notes of ginger, cloves, and allspice, will fill your house with the smell of autumn.
Because it’s even better eaten the next day, this pumpkin bread, like most quick breads, is excellent for gift giving. I like to bake it in mini-loaf Italian paper molds, available from the Kitchen Supply Co. (distributed by Amazon), so I can give it to several people at once—teachers, colleagues, neighbors. Double the recipe and you’ll yield ten mini loaves.
This bread will travel well with you if you’re heading out this Thanksgiving. For the host with the most, package a few mini loaves in a wood box with some tasty tidbits such as candied ginger, pistachios, spiced almonds, and chocolate packaged in cellophane bags.
If you’re staying home, a thick slice of this moist loaf is the perfect mid-afternoon snack. You can also dress it up by plating a slice with a dollop of ginger whipped cream (stir in 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to whipped cream) for an easy yet elegant dessert.
Hence Pumpkin Bread is number four in the Sweet Home holiday arsenal: it’s more authentic than a scented candle; keeps well, and is simply scrumptious.
Pumpkin Snack Bread
From the Sweet Home Cookbook, Kyle Books 2012
Makes one 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-3/4-inch loaf or five 4 x 2 x 2-inch mini loaves
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup corn oil
1/3 cup orange juice
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving one extra inch of paper extending beyond the two long sides of the pan. Grease the pan and paper with baking spray. If using paper pans, skip the parchment but still grease with baking spray.
2. Stir together the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, corn oil, orange juice, and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined. Do not overmix.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (35 to 40 minutes for mini loaves) or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
5. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then gently lift the loaf out and place on a rack to cool completely for 1 hour. If baking in paper pans, do not remove from the pans until eaten. The bread is even better the next day so if you can resist, wrap with foil and leave at room temperature overnight.
My sister, Lisa, who favors chocolate over most things, opts for ice cream pie instead of cake for her summer birthday celebration. For years my mother has made her a Black-Bottom Pie, a luscious dessert that is very simple to make. There are several steps that involve chill/freeze time, but other than that, this recipe is easily accomplished by the most novice baker.
True to its name, Black-Bottom Pie has a tasty, dark-colored chocolate crust. A satisfyingly thick, fudgy sauce covers the crust before the ice cream is generously added. Mint chocolate chip is Lisa’s preferred flavor, but almost any ice cream will work with this recipe: coffee, strawberry, dulce de leche, or even plain vanilla.
Summer birthdays scream for ice cream, but so does any sticky, sweltering day. This black-bottom ice cream pie, included in my Sweet Home cookbook, is a cool ending to any summer meal.
Black-Bottom Ice Cream Pie
1-1/4 cups finely crushed chocolate cookie crumbs (about 25 cookies, such as Famous Chocolate Wafers)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 quart mint chocolate-chip ice cream (or your favorite flavor)
1/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (about 5 wafer cookies)
1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Put the cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine.
3. Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie plate, being sure to cover the sides of plate too. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the chocolate, water, sugar, butter, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted. Continue to cook for another 1 minute, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
5. Pour the sauce over the cooled pie crust and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.
6. Once the sauce has firmed in the crust, soften the ice cream slightly so it will be easy to scoop and spread evenly into the pie crust. Fill the crust with the softened ice cream. Sprinkle the top with the cookie crumbs and freeze the pie for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
Really good, fully-ripe local peaches are now making their way to farm stands here in the Hudson Valley. Up until now we’ve had some okay ones, but I encountered many tasteless, hard peaches in the past month too. Trying to blanch a hard peach stinks.
There’s nothing quite like biting into that first juicy, chin-dripping peach of the summer…it is the taste of summer.
The past year’s erratic weather patterns—record spring highs followed by cold snaps—caused much speculation about the summer’s fruit crops. I unfortunately haven’t seen any sour cherries this month, nor do I think I will (boo-hoo!). Thanks goodness we’ve got peaches.
I came across this interesting piece on The New York Times site…
And guess when it was published? The August 9 date probably gives you a clue that it wasn’t this year, but it wasn’t last either…it was written over 125 years ago and we’re still dealing with the same issues.
Scrumptious peaches warrant celebration. While they need no adornment, of course I can’t resist baking them into a pie or muffins—it’s the hedonist in me.
And Ffrench just flat out won’t accept that watching-your-waistline excuse. “You can bake something — keep a couple of cookies yourself — and then give the rest away. That way nobody is getting a whole big box of cookies, or a giant cake that they can’t eat. Share the love.”
And have I got a recipe for you to share. If you even just like peaches, you’re going to love these muffins. Warm from the oven, the peaches in this irresistible morning treat become creamy, the taste reminiscent of peach cobbler.
These muffins are the perfect sweet ending to a weekend brunch, that is, if they make it to your table. It’s hard to resist eating them straight from the oven, steamy and moist.
I can’t take credit for this recipe however. It comes from former Magnolia Bakery owner Allysa Torey. If they had to, my family would wait in line for these muffins, just like Magnolia devotees used to queue up for cupcakes in the West Village. Bleecker Street is no longer the only outlet for the famed baked goods though. Magnolia cupcakes are available in numerous bakeries across the country, and even in Bloomingdales’ Dubai outpost. Now there’s a thought.
The only downside to this muffin is that they call for cake flour, which may not be a staple in your pantry. If not, just replace the 1-1/2 cups cake flour with 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of cornstarch.
Peach Cobbler Muffins
Adapated from Sour Cream Peach Streusel Buns as they appeared in Allysa Torey’s At Home with Magnolia: Classic American Recipes from the Owner of Magnolia Bakery (Wiley, 2006)
For the topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
For the muffins:
1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1-1/2 cups blanched, peeled, and coarsely chopped ripe peaches (about 2 to 3 medium)*
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place paper liners in 20 standard muffin cups. (I used folded cupcake liners, also called tulip baking cups, in the photo above. I also used white peaches, which explains the lack of a pretty peachy-orange color in the muffins.)
2. For the topping: Stir the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Add the softened butter, and using two forks, gently incorporate the butter into the flour mixture until it is clumpy and the size of large peas. Set aside.
3. For the muffins: Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
4. Put the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream together on medium for 3 minutes. Add the egg, and then the yolk, blending after each addition until fully incorporated, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Stir in the vanilla extract.
5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half of the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stop and scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is moistened.
6. Add the sour cream and beat until just combined. With the mixer on low, add the rest of the dry ingredients until moistened, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with the spatula. Do not overbeat. Stir in the peaches using the spatula or a wooden spoon.
7. Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, fill the prepared muffin cups two-thirds full. Sprinkle each muffin with a tablespoon of topping.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until pale golden and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in the pan.
*To blanch peaches, fill a large pot 3/4 full with water. Bring it to a boil. Gently lower the peaches into the boiling water with a slotted spoon or spider strainer. Allow the peaches to boil for a quick 30 seconds, then drain the peaches, leaving them in the pot. Quickly fill the pot with cold water. As you pick up the peaches under the running water, the skin should slip right off. Alternately, you can fill a bowl with ice water and plunge the peaches in the cold water after draining.
Given the choice, it seems most people will sin—at least when it comes to sticky, sweet cinnamon buns. I’m not talking wicked, immoral acts here, just perhaps a shameful throwing of cholesterol, calorie-counting restrictions out the window.
I taped a “Breakfast for Overnight Guests” segment for CT Style yesterday featuring my favorite Sinful Cinnamon Rolls from the Sweet Home cookbook. But, because these buns aren’t exactly for the calorie-conscious, I also included peach-raspberry smoothies and a summer fruit salad topped with Greek yogurt and homemade pistachio granola. I like to offer my guests options—especially if they feel one includes a walk into the Garden of Evil.
I hear so many gripes and groans about calories these days I thought that the folks on set would hone in on the fruit and avoid the carbs. Forget that. People were inhaling the buns and wrapping up more to take home. I could barely pawn off the fruit salad and smoothies however. Really, who can resist juicy raspberries and peaches in season? And I promise you, this granola is to die for. My kids eat it by the handful.
In defense of the WTNH staff though, they may be eating healthy options all week and these buns were a big indulgence, which leads to my thoughts on breakfast for overnight guests—make it a big treat.
Your guests will thank you for indulging them (as will your family). And just because the fruit didn’t go on set, don’t skip the opportunity to serve up a big bowl of succulent seasonal berries and melon as an accompaniment to cinnamon rolls. Plus the yogurt and granola add plenty of protein and fiber to the meal.
The granola recipe makes a big batch that can be stored in an airtight container for up to one month. This isn’t your typical clustered granola though, it is more of a sprinkling granola, which is why it works so well with fruit. There are no big clumps to compete with the fruit, just lots of crunchy goodness to enhance it.
There are many ingredients to purchase for the granola, and it does get pricey, but I find it’s well worth every penny. You get Omega 3s, Vitamin E, and lots of other good stuff that’ll make up for any sinning!
Soul-Saving Pistachio Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1-1/4 cups raw pistachios
½ cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup toasted wheat germ
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup applesauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line two 11 x 17-inch baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, pistachios, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds. Add the wheat germ and brown sugar and stir thoroughly with a spoon.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine the maple syrup, applesauce, and olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture come to a simmer.
4. Remove from the heat and pour the sugar mixture over the dry ingredients. Toss thoroughly with a spoon to combine.
5. Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove from the oven when golden. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to one month.
Makes 5 cups
Combine about 6 cups of seasonal fresh fruit in a large large bowl (i.e., peaches, melon, raspberries) and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and sprinkle with granola. (I add approximately a tablespoon of honey for every 1/2 cup of yogurt.) Serves 6 to 8
Summer Fruit Smoothies for a Crowd
2-1/2 cups sliced peaches (about 4 large)
2 cups raspberries
2 cups melon
3 cups ice
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1. Combine all the ingredients together in a blender and run until smooth.
Sinful Cinnamon Rolls
For helpful roll-making tips, click here to watch the CT Style segment.
Note: If you have a bread maker, I encourage you to make the dough in it, as directed below. If you don’t have a timer on your machine, you can still put the ingredients in and run the cycle before you go to bed. The dough will hold until the morning when you’re ready to roll it out. However, you can go one step further and roll out the dough and place the buns in the pan and refrigerate. Take them out the next morning one hour before you’re ready to bake them.
For the dough
1/4 cup very warm water
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 enevlope (21/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
41/2 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
For the filling
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. To make the dough with a bread maker: Put all the ingredients in a 11/2- to 2-pound bread maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions with the following two changes: (1) Melt the butter and add with the liquid ingredients. (2) Replace the water with milk. Run the bread maker on the dough setting and when finished, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and skip to step 7.
2. If not using a bread maker: Butter a large glass or ceramic bowl in which the dough will rise.
3. Put the water in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with the yeast, stir again to dissolve, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until frothy.
4. Put the milk in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to steam and bubble slightly on the edges. Lower the heat and add the butter, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and the salt. Stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
5. When the milk mixture has cooled, add the proofed yeast mixture, egg, and vanilla extract and stir. Add the flour and vital wheat gluten and continue to stir until smooth.
6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes until soft. Sprinkle flour over the dough if it’s sticky and knead a few more times. Place in the prepared bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
7. Grease two 8-inch square pans with baking spray.
8. Make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly combined.
9. Using a rolling pin, form the dough into a 16- x 24-inch rectangle. With a rubber spatula or knife, spread the butter gently over the entire rectangle of dough, leaving a 1-inch margin at the top long edge of the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture on top, avoiding the 1-inch margin at the top (you don’t want to butter or sugar the edge that will be used to seal the dough).
10. Starting with the bottom long edge of the rectangle, roll the dough tightly away from you toward the top. When you reach the top, press the clean edge into the rolled dough to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into 1- to 11/2-inch sections. You should get 16 rolls. Place the rolls around the edges of the prepared pan (8 to a pan). Cover the two pans with dish towels and let rise a second time, about 30 minutes.
11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the risen rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
12. Make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat for 6 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, or until fluffy again. Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.
13. Divide the frosting between the two pans, liberally spreading it across the top of the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. Let cool for several minutes before eating.
Makes 16 rolls