pumpkin pullapart bread

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Nothing says fall more than pumpkins!  Autumn is my favorite season since there are so many desserts with pumpkins!  I mainly like my pumpkins in desserts rather than soups.

Those who are not much of a fan of pumpkins will be surprise when they try this pullapart sweet bread.  It has a subtle hint of pumpkin balance with the tangy sweet cream cheese frosting.  I try my best to use ingredients in proportions amount of pumpkin and cinnamon, and  other spices.  It is important not to go overboard when using spices in desserts.

Even though I do not drink coffee, I do enjoy dropping in coffee shops around this season since they often carry pumpkin bread or muffins.  In fact, Starbucks has a pretty decent pumpkin bread.  I find it to be more moist than their muffins.  Although, the muffins does have a cream cheese filling.

Stay tune for more pumpkins recipes such as pumpkin bread and pumpkin buttermilk bundt cake!

Pumpkin pullapart bread

Ingredients

  • 3 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ c granulated sugar
  • 2¼ t instant yeast or one package
  • ½ t salt
  • 4 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ c whole milk
  • ½ c pumpkin puree
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 T unsalted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1½ t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • ¼ t ground ginger
  • ⅛ t ground clove
Instructions
  1. Make the dough by combining the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. Heat the milk in the microwave for one minute. Add the butter to the milk and stir until melted.
  3. Add the milk, pumpkin, vanilla and eggs to the dry ingredients. Mix on low until dough starts to come together, then turn up the speed to medium high and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Add more flour (by the tablespoon) as needed until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. The dough will be tacky and will stick to the bottom of the bowl, this is okay. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, roll the dough in oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm spot and allow dough to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
  4. While the dough rises, combine the sugar and spices and mix well. Melt the butter in the microwave, about 45 seconds on high.
  5. Once the dough has risen, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a ball. Cover with a dry, clean towel and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 12 by 20 inches. Brush the dough with butter and cover with sugar, the whole cup full. Cut the dough into 6 – 2 inch wide strips. Stack the strips on one another and cut them into 6 sections. Stack each section into a buttered 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, sprinkle any leftover sugar onto the layers of dough. Cover the pan with a towel and let the dough rise a second time in a warm spot for 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow the bread to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Lemon blueberry pull apart bread

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I have gotten the itch for yeast.. okay that did not sound very pleasant.  So to clarify: I want my kitchen to smell of yummy bread.  There is something about watching and punching your dough as it rises.  The smell of the yeast doing its magic is unbeatable.  Here is the how the pull apart looks when stacked in the loaf pan.  You want to stack them tightly and snuggly all together and let it rise for the second time before sticking them in the oven.  I like the idea of making a sweet bread that you can pull apart and share.   The blueberry gave the bread a burst of color and the specks of lemon zest brightens the entire sweet bread.  The best part is the cream cheese frosting to bind all of the goodness together.  Fresh out of the oven sweet bread with lemon zest is a red cherry on top.

Lemon blueberry pull apart sweet bread (adapted from flo braker)

Sweet Yeast Dough
About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

Blueberry Lemon Sugar Filling
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Blueberry scones

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I enjoy a hot cup of green tea each morning.  So, I am constantly in search for a great pastry to pair with it.  Usually a scone or muffin would be a perfect match.  Yet, only the kind smothered with sugar or thick glaze are found in most coffee shops nowadays.

There is something irresistable about a scone or muffin filled with plumped fruits such as blueberries or dried cherries.  Sometimes, a chocolate chip scone can be be the right fix since the sweetness of the chocolate chip (especially with a warm scones) would complement a green tea.

Blueberry scones (source: Tyler florence)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.


Ultimate Banana bread

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Want to fill your home with a warm scent  without candles?  Bake some homemade banana bread.  I made this in the evening, and I cannot describe how wonderful my house smelled as the banana was baking in the oven.  I can always tell when the bread is done.. just follow your nose!  I had 4 black bananas in the freezer and a recipe I have been dying to try.  Alright, so the ripe black bananas out of the freezer did not look very pleasing, but that is the kind of ripe bananas you want for making a good banana bread.  Sometimes I would buy extra bananas just so that I have a few left over to make bread.  So, I know you’ve got some a few tired looking bananas on your kitchen counter right now;  toss them in the freezer and when you have about 4 or 6 of them..make this!

I have tired countless of recipe.  Some of my favorite uses sour cream, but who has that handy whenever you need it?  When it comes to using up old bananas, you have to whip it up with simple ingredients.  My past results did not have enough banana flavor but was moist since used vegetable oil.  I wanted a recipe with a blast of banana flavor and chunks of it.  But I also wanted it to be moist.  The recipe from America’s Test Kitchen had the flavor I wanted but it was not as moist and I would like.  Next time, I  will try to substitute half of the butter with canola oil used in the recipe.  Hey, I like my butter since I don’t like greasy banana bread.  But guess what else is in the bread?  only a handful of dark chocolate chips.. hey, this monkey needs her chocolate.  Also, I put slices of bananas on top of the bread banana so you know what you are eating.  So, bananas on top of banana bread is like a red cherry on top of a delicious dessert.

Ultimate banana bread (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1 ¾ cups (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
6 large very ripe bananas (about 2¼ pounds), peeled
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

2. Place 5 bananas in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in the plastic with a paring knife. Microwave on high power until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bananas to a fine-mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cups liquid).

3. Transfer the liquid to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until it’s reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir the reduced liquid into the bananas, and mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in the butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

4. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in the walnuts, if using. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Slice the remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle the banana slices on top of both sides of the loaf, leaving a 1½-inch-wide space down the center to ensure an even rise. Sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.