Sourdough Ginger Pumpkin Bread

I cannot believe that there are only 2 full months left of 2022, and yet, here we are, at the end of October. Like this month, the year absolutely flew by.

As busy as it’s been, I’m grateful that this year, I was intentional about setting time aside for myself to continue to cook, bake and blog–even during the times that it felt like I was ‘shirking’ off from my day-job. If I hadn’t, it’s safe to say I wouldn’t have gained some new skills in the cooking/baking department that have become pretty important to my eating habits now.

Learning/practicing how to bake sourdough bread was one of the things I set aside personal time for. It’s one of the better decisions I’ve made for my ongoing baking education, not least because there are so many different uses for sourdough besides just ‘standard’ bakers loaves. I’ve already shared several different uses I’ve found for it before in past posts (see here, here, here, and here), and today I’m excited to share the latest one I’ve tried out.

I’ve wanted to try making pumpkin shaped bread for a really long time, but I’d always chickened out because the ‘shaping’ part of it intimidated me. But seeing as I’m in a season of being intentional in trying/doing things that normally would’ve intimidated me, I decided to make pumpkin shaped bread the next thing I was going to tackle. I’m very pleased to be able to report back that I think it turned out pretty well.

The ‘labor’ involved in making pumpkin bread really isn’t as involved/complicated as it might look. What it comes down to, is tying various strings of kitchen twine around/across a ball of bread dough and allowing it to rise/bake with the string still in place so as to preserve the pumpkin ‘shape’.

I’m also happy to report that this bread tastes as good as it looks. The spices from both the pumpkin pie spice and ginger really complement each other nicely, and I strongly recommend that you toast the bread when eating, which both enhances the flavor and provides a delicious texture on the outside to complement the moisture of the bread on the inside.

Happy Halloween !

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Sourdough Ginger Pumpkin Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 grams) pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) Sourdough Starter, either ripe (fed) or discard
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups (360 grams) Bread Flour* (You may not need to use it all)
  • 1/4 cup (46 grams) mini diced ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick, optional (for decoration)
  • Kitchen twine, for shaping

Directions

In a small container, pour the 1/4 cup of warm water. Sprinkle the active dry yeast on top, then sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of white sugar. Allow to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy.

In a medium size bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, the salt, the 1/4 cup white sugar and the pumpkin pie spice. Stir together with a fork.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with bread hook attachments, add the activated yeast, the pumpkin puree, the sourdough starter, the egg and the melted butter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine. (Using either a handheld mixer with the dough hook attachments, or the standing mixer). If need be, add the extra 1 cup of flour.

Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes until it becomes smooth and bouncy.

Grease the inside of the bowl, place the dough inside, and allow to rise for 1-1/2 hours, until puffy,.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut 4 20″ pieces of kitchen twine, stack them together, and tie a granny knot in the middle. Dip all but the top 2″ of the strings in oil. Place on top of parchment paper. Lay the end of the strings over the sheet pan’s edge, spacing evenly all around.

Deflate the risen dough and shape it into a ball. Place the dough ion top of the strings, seam side down. Bring the strings together at the top. Knot or clip them together loosely, leaving about 3/4″ of slack between the strings and the dough (so as to allow room for the dough to rise).

Cover and let rise for 60-90 minutes, until the dough holds its indentation when lightly pressed with your finger.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a straight lame to 1/2″ deep lines from the bottom of the dough to the top in ‘leaf’ patterns, repeating all the way around.

Bake the bread for 50-55 minutes, tenting the top with foil after 35 minutes. (Bread is done when a digital thermometer inserted into its center reads 190 degrees F) Remove the bread from oven and cool it on a wire rack.

Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the kitchen twine, remove them from the loaf, then stick the cinnamon stick into the top as a ‘stem’.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #456.

Pumpkin Swirl Cookies

One of the reasons I got into baking in the first place was because I appreciated that there are some desserts that are really like pieces of art; they’re just as nice to look at as they are to eat. Or at the least, they make you do a double take and wonder to yourself, “Huh. I wonder how that’s done.”

Today’s recipe is one of those desserts. The moment I saw them I was interested, not just because the flavors sounded good to me; they were pretty to look at and I immefiately wanted to know how they were made, and whatever that technique was, try it for myself.

As it turns out, the technique for these cookies really isn’t complicated. What it comes down to, is making two different cookie doughs–a standard sugar cookie dough and a pumpkin flavored one–then sandwiching them together.

After the cookie doughs are sandwiched together, the sandwiched dough gets portioned off into individual layered cookies that get baked, and bam: Business as usual on the outside, party on the inside. Pumpkin swirl cookies.

A few notes/tips I learned from my first go around in making these: they are HUGE, bakery style cookies, roughly the size of your palm. If you would like to have more/make them smaller, then once you have cut the layered 24 squares, you can either stop there and bake them like that (there won’t be as many layers on the inside though). Or, you can divide the portioned 12 dough balls in the last step before baking in half.

Also, chilling the dough (preferably overnight) is a MUST for this recipe. The pumpkin cookie dough is very moist and it will not be fun/cooperative to work with un-chilled.

Be patient on the baking time. Because these are such big cookies, and because there are two different cookie doughs, they take a lot longer to bake than regular cookies.

Lastly, enjoy them!

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Pumpkin Swirl Cookies

Adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

For Sugar Cookie Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla emulsion (I used LorAnn’s Butter Vanilla Emulsion)

For Pumpkin Cookie Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla emulsion (I used LorAnn’s Butter Vanilla Emulsion)

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

For Sugar Cookie Dough:

In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or In another medium bowl and using a handheld mixer with the beater attachments, beat white sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy.

Add the egg and the vanilla, and mix until just combined.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Use a rubber spatula to spread and press the dough into a flat rectangle. Add a second piece of plastic wrap on top, and flatten the rectangle using a rolling pin to approximately 8 by 10 inches. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

For Pumpkin Cookie Dough

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, baking soda and salt with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or In another medium bowl and using a handheld mixer with the beater attachments, beat white sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy.

Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin and mix until just combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Use a rubber spatula to spread and press the dough into a flat rectangle. Add a second piece of plastic wrap on top, and flatten the rectangle using a rolling pin to approximately 8 by 10 inches. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

For Assembly*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap the pumpkin cookie dough and place on a lightly floured piece of parchment. Lightly flour the top and a rolling pin and roll into a larger rectangle about 10 1/2 by 16 inches (see Cook’s Note). Slide the parchment with the dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you repeat the process with the sugar cookie dough. Roll and refrigerate the sugar cookie dough in the same manner.

Use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour from the top of the pumpkin cookie dough. Using the parchment to help you, flip the pumpkin cookie dough onto the sugar cookie dough, lining up the 2 rectangles as closely as possible. Cut the dough in half crosswise with a very sharp knife or pastry cutter so you now have 2 rectangles that are 10 1/2 by 7 inches.

Stack the dough rectangles on top of one another so you now have 4 layers of alternating cookie dough. Cut this stack crosswise into 6 rows, then lengthwise into 4 rows so you end up with a total of 24 squares.

Stack one layered square on top of a second one and, using lightly floured hands, gently press the edges together and round into a domed ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining squares, evenly spacing 6 dough balls on each lined baking sheet.   

Use your palms to slightly flatten the balls. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the cookies are puffed in the center and golden brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on the pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet to cool completely.

For glaze: combine confectioners sugar and pumpkin spice together in a small bowl. Add milk in tablespoon increments until it’s reached the desired consistency. (You may not need to use it all). Use a fork to drizzle it over the cookies and allow to set, about 20 minutes.

*For a video depiction of cookie assembly, see here.

*The pumpkin dough will be much softer than the sugar cookie dough so you will have to use more flour when rolling out to prevent sticking. Work quickly; if the dough gets too soft or warm, place the whole piece of parchment on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for a few minutes.

Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #455, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Apple Cider Cookie Bars

It’s my favorite time of year: Autumn.

The weather isn’t too hot, but still isn’t too cold. You can break out the sweaters and boots without needing to break out the heavy winter coats. Depending on where you live, the trees begin to change color.

And then, of course, there’s the food of it all.

Much like peaches and strawberries with summer, apple cider is one of those ingredients that are very ‘seasonal’ for my tastebuds. I get the hankering to have it at very specific times of year. Late September-early October is the perfect sweet spot to where I will take apple cider whenever I can get it, in as many different ways as I can get it.

We all know apple cider is delicious enough on its own, but did you know it’s a pretty great ingredient to bake with as well? It’s true. I’ve put it to some delicious uses several times before on the blog, first with donuts (baked and fried), then another time with pound cake.

Today, I’m back to experimenting with cider but with something a little different.

Cookie bars have become one of my favorite desserts over the past few years. They’re simple to make, and they also deliver on the most important factor for me when it comes to successful desserts, outside of flavor: the texture.

With a cookie bar I get the full bodied, chewy texture I like, with a smooth filling on top to balance it all out. As with a lot of the desserts on this blog, these started with a Blank Canvas base recipe, that I customized to my preferences. The cookie base is a standard Pâte Sablée Cookie Crust that I’ve used before with other cookie bar recipes, but this time added some spices to give it more of an ‘autumn-y’ flavor. The filling is an apple cider ‘quick custard’ where you let the oven do the work rather than cooking it over the stove with traditional custard recipes.

You guys, I was so pleased with how these turned out. The pâte sablée is a tasty enough cookie on its own, but adding the apple cider custard was the perfect addition of flavor and texture. This is one is already set to become one of my favorite autumn desserts, and should you try it, I think it’ll become one of yours too.

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Apple Cider Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from BHG & a previous recipe on Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

For Pâte Sablée Cookie Crust

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

For Cider Custard Filling*

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

For Boiled Cider Syrup:

In a large saucepan bring cider to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 1 to 2 hours (depends on pot size), uncovered, until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup. Let cool completely.

*Note: You can buy pre-boiled cider syrup. You’ll need 1/2 cup total for this recipe.

For Cookie Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld one with the beater attachments), beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg and egg yolks, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.

With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan; lightly spray with cooking spray.


Press Pâte Sablée cookie crust into bottom of prepared pan. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a fork, prick the dough about every 1 inch.


Bake until light golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together boiled cider syrup, milk, and 3/4 cup cream. In a medium bowl whisk together brown sugar, flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and the salt. Add cider mixture. Stir until combined.

Increased oven temp to 375 degrees F. Pour cider custard onto cookie crust.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until custard appears set at edges but is still slightly jiggly in center. Let cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #453.

Brown Sugar Toffee Pound Cake

One of the biggest (and ongoing) lessons of my adult life has been to find ways to celebrate myself. They don’t have to be ((and mine typically are not) huge, grand, pricey gestures. But they are necessary. And, mind tend to taste really good.

This past week, I turned 33. Per a tradition I’ve been keeping for about nine years, every year for my birthday, I bake a new cake to celebrate…well, myself. 32 was an amazing year for me. There was a lot of new changes, a lot hard work, and a lot of great accomplishments–among them, getting a year older.

Great accomplishments always call for great cake. I’ve made quite a few great pound cakes in past years for past birthdays, but the pound cake will jus† always be my favorite, so here we go again for Year 33.

This year’s pound cake is pretty simple in terms of ingredients, but I did a few things differently that set it apart from some of the other ones I’ve made.

First, I used brown sugar instead of white to give it a deeper, more caramel-y sweetness. Combined with the five eggs, using brown sugar also gives the cake a denser texture, which I’m a huge fan of. So far as mix-ins, I added Heath Toffee Bits, which I’ve also never used in a cake before but thought they would pair well with the brown sugar and denseness of the cake. The other new addition was the browned butter frosting, which I’ve done in glazes before, but not frosting itself.

While I do think the cake is delicious enough to eat on its own, I do think the browned butter frosting added a really pleasant, nutty flavor to it that cut through some of the sweetness. Also, toffee bits are now a new favorite add in for me, so you’ll probably be seeing those used a bit more in baked goods to come on here.

I really liked my 33rd birthday, and I really liked this cake.

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Brown Sugar Toffee Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Bake From Scratch

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or Butter Vanilla emulsion
  • 1 (8-ounce) package toffee bits

For Browned Butter Frosting

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or Butter Vanilla Emulsion
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

Directions

For Cake

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Combine the milk and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk-extract mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined after each addition.

Stir in toffee bits and pecans.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Tap the pan a few times on the countertop to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes, covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

For Browned Butter Frosting

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer

Carefully pour butter into a bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk to butter, and stir until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add more milk until it reaches desired consistency.

Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Place in the refrigerator to allow frosting to set, about 30 minutes.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #452.