fall’s bounty

Here are some recipes from our autumn weekend, enjoying the fruits of the season.

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread

adapted from Willow Bird Baking

I like more pumpkin-spice flavor in the bread itself, so I added a few things.

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread

To make the dough:
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. (+ maybe a little more) unbleached flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 T. unsalted butter

2 T. unsalted butter
1/8 c. brown sugar
2 T. milk
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. rum or brandy

Make the pull-apart bread dough: Grease and flour an 8×8 square baking pan and set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the 2 tablespoons of butter. Let it bubble and foam and until it starts to darken, swirling around in the pan occasionally. When it’s the color of dark honey, remove it from the heat and pour it into a large heat-safe mixer bowl to cool. In the same saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk until it bubbles. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl with the butter. Set the saucepan aside for another use later.

Stir spoonfuls of the pumpkin puree in to cool the butter and milk mixture. When the temperature has lowered to around 110˚, stir the sugar and yeast in and let it sit for a few minutes. Stir in the rest of the pumpkin, salt, spices and 1 cup of the whole wheat flour. If you haven’t already, fit your mixer with a dough hook. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, starting with the wheat, stirring between each addition. Keep kneading with the dough hook on low speed until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes with a mixer). I used home-made cooked pumpkin, so my pumpkin puree was quite moist, and had to add at least another 1/2 c. of flour to get it to the right consistency. It should be somewhat sticky, but spring back when touched.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour until it doubles in size. Mine took longer because my pumpkin was a little cold and it cooled the dough. (After it rises, you can put it in the fridge overnight to use it in the morning, but let it sit out for half an hour before rolling if you do.)

Make the filling: While the dough is rising, whisk the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together in a small bowl. Toward the end of the rising time, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for the filling in the saucepan over medium-high heat and brown it as directed above. Remove from heat.

Shape and bake pull-apart bread: Knead a sprinkling of flour (about 1 tablespoon) into the dough, deflating it, and re-cover it. Let it sit to relax for 5 minutes. This is important, or it’s way too springy to deal with. Flour a large work surface and turn your rested dough out onto it. Roll it out to a 20 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing (I had to do this twice during the process).

Spread the browned butter over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top, patting it down to ensure it mostly sticks.

Cut the dough into 6 strips the long way with a pizza cutter. The best way to do this and have it come out evenly is to cut the rectangle in half, then cut each half into equal thirds. Stack these strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 8 even portions. Place these portions one stack at a time into your greased loaf pan like your filing papers, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in. Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 30-45 minutes to double in size.

While dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan). When it’s risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark golden brown on top (if you take it out at light golden brown, it’s liable to be raw in the middle, so let it get good and dark). Cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack in the loaf pan while you make the glaze.

Make the glaze: In your saucepan, bring the butter, milk, and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove it from heat, add the powdered sugar and rum or brandy, and whisk it to a smooth consistency.

Assemble and serve: Use a butter knife to loosen all sides of the bread from the loaf pan and gently turn it out onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip it to turn it right side up. Drizzle glaze over top. Serve each piece slightly warm with a drizzle of glaze.

Pan-fried Trout with Spinach and Almonds

Mix 1 c. coarse cornmeal with lots of salt and pepper and 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Cut 4 trout filets off the skin. (It works best if you work your sharp, fileting knife in under the fish flesh on the short end until you can get a good hold of the skin, and then pull the skin while holding the knife securely. This should take the fish right off the skin. It worked so surprisingly well I was disappointed when I ran out of fish to de-skin.) Pat the fish filets dry with a paper towel, then dredge in the cornmeal, packing it a bit to help it stick, and put on a cookie sheet that you then put in the fridge until ready to cook.

Brown 1/4 c. of sliced almonds in a dry non-stick skillet.

Clean ~ 1 lb of baby spinach and remove stems. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and then throw the spinach in and toss around until wilted. Put into mesh strainer to drain.

Allow the water to cook out of the pan, then add 1 T. butter and 2 T. of olive oil. Let it get good and hot, then pan-fry two of the trout filets at a time, ~ 2 minutes per side. Serve each filet on a small bed of spinach, sprinkle with 1 T. of the almonds.

Healthful Apple Strudel

Strudel dough:
Whirl 1 c. wheat flour, 1/2 c. white flour, and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Add 1 egg, 2 tsp. melted butter, and 1/4 tsp. vinegar and whirl until it’s all moist crumbs. Warm 3/8 c. milk to just barely warm, and pour through the opening in the top of the food processor bowl with the blade running. Allow to process for up to a minute until it forms a nice ball of dough. Pour out onto a well-floured cloth, roll to cover with flour, and cover with a bowl.

Mix 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 3 T. flour, and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Peel and slice very thinly, 4 c. apples (firm, tart ones are good, but we used just-picked Honey Crisps and it was fantastic!). Stir the apple slices into the sugar/flour mixture until well coated. Add 1/2 c. raisins and 1/4 c. chopped hazelnuts. Stir again.

To roll out dough:
Roll and gently stretch the dough to a 12-16″ square. Be patient, it will happen. Brush with 1 T. of melted butter. Fold in half into a rectangle, brush top with a bit more melted butter. Fold that in half into a square. DON’T BRUSH THE TOP WITH MELTED BUTTER. Roll and gently stretch the dough until it’s back to the size you started with. You want it thin thin thin, but you also want to be able to maneuver it and not have it tear, so be gentle.

Pour filling out just this side of a line down the middle of the rectangle. Leave an inch or so on each end, and a few inches at the edge by you. Dot with just a little bit more butter and sprinkle with brandy.

Fold the ends of the dough up over the ends of the filling, and, this is where it gets a little hairy, oh-so-carefully roll the whole thing up like a jelly roll*. Use the cloth you’ve rolled on to help you. When you get to the end, position a large cookie sheet behind the strudel still on the cloth, and keep rolling the strudel right on to the pan. Phew!

Brush the top with milk and then sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar. You can cut slits, but it will probably “explode” in the oven anyway, so don’t worry about it.

Bake at 375˚ for 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream, plain yogurt, or homemade whipped cream.

*I love this expression — it’s in recipes all the time, and no one I know has ever in his or her life made an actual jelly roll. Yet we all know what is meant. Cool.

Sorry I don’t have pictures of the fish. Too much to do all at once, and then it gets cold quickly, so we ate it instead. Drank a delightful dry riesling with it. Yum.

Happy fall!!!

My allergies are actually killing me, so I’m thinking maybe I wouldn’t mind maybe one teensy weensy hard frost?


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