Pumpkin Recipes Part 2: Coffee Can Pumpkin Bread

October 23, 2011 Menu No Comments

One of my favorite projects that I remember doing when I was kid (aside from restoring an old bike and building monster models, that is), was making pumpkin bread in a coffee can. We did this as a Campfire project, and sold the loaves at our school’s Christmas Bazaar. I remember finding this to be so much fun because not only did I love pumpkin bread, but we got to make it in a way that didn’t seem ‘cutesy’ or ‘girly’. Normally, my friends and I would just use a coffee can to kick around the street and chuck pennies into. But now, we were allowed to crack eggs, mix it into a goopy batter, pout it into the cans and load ’em into this big, monstrous industrial oven in the school hall’s kitchen. We were like 8-year old mad scientists!!!

Pumpkin bread can be very versatile. Dry, moist, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips or coconut shavings….the choices are endless! While doing research for this post (and every variety that just mentioned was easily found), I came across a great recipe for coffee can pumpkin bread at a nice food blog called The Dutch Bakers Daughter. Cathy, the owner of the blog, not only allowed me to share her recipe, but was also gracious enough to allow me to use her coffee can photos as well. Thank you, Cathy!

Although coffee can pumpkin bread tastes almost the same as a traditional loaf, the coffee can method does offer is a really nice presentation. You get a perfectly rounded loaf with neat little grooves around the sides (this was the big selling point at the Christmas bazaar – the perfectly round loaves of bread). The coffee cans also make for great storage…just pop the lid back onto the can and you can store them in the freezer for future usage! It’s also a fun and nostalgic project to do with your kids this time of year.

If you do decide to give coffee can pumpkin bread a try, there are a few precautions that you should be aware of:

1. Use the proper type of coffee can
You want to make sure that you are using a steel coffee can. Years ago, when baking bread in coffee cans was more common, the cans were made of steel. Some of today’s cans are made of aluminum, and may have a coating on them that is not healthy to digest. And of course the plastic containers will melt in the oven. Steel cans are the way to go.

2. Prepare the can
In order for the baked bread to slide out of the can, there has to be no lip on top of the can. If there is, you can use a can opener to remove it. Once you are done doing that, smooth out the edges with a brillo pad. Then make sure to thoroughly wash out the cans and let them dry. Be sure to flour and grease the cans before adding the batter. Fill the cans no more than 2/3 full, to assure that there is no overflow when baking. You can also check out the following video on how to prepare the coffee cans for baking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nA8fVAGWoU

3. Don’t forget oven mits!
Just like a traditional pan, the coffee can will be hot when done baking. Be careful when removing it and let it sit until completely cooled. Do not place the lid back onto the hot can until it is cooled.

 

COFFEE CAN PUMPKIN BREAD
Recipe and photos courtesy of The Dutch Baker’s Daughter
(click here for the original post)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon cloves
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon mace
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups flour

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 4 (1 lb) coffee cans (may substitute 3 loaf pans or 6 mini-loaf pans)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well blended.
Divide the batter between the 4 coffee cans.
Bake for 1 hour or until the tops spring back when touched.
Allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before removing from cans.

 

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Pumpkin Recipes Part 1: Pumpkin Ravioli & Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

October 9, 2011 Menu No Comments

Now’s the time for all things pumpkin to make its way into my kitchen. Everything from pumpkin coffee, bread, muffins, pies, spices, soup, ice cream, and of course beer….you name it and I’m a sucker for it. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some pumpkin recipes that are fantastic for this time of year, starting this week with two pasta dishes!

One of the most popular dishes that you’ll often find in restaurants this time of year is pumpkin ravioli. If you have a pasta machine at home, ravioli is fairly easy to make (see instructions below). Last week I decided to make pumpkin ravioli with a pumpkin cream sauce. I researched and made a really good ravioli filling, and then put together a delicious pumpkin cream sauce that was just what I had in mind.

Everything was cooked and ready to go, which led to my sad discovery….yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as too much pumpkin. It wasn’t that the pumpkin taste was too overwhelming. The problem was that I couldn’t tell where the sauce ended and the ravioli began! Your pasta and sauce should compliment each other, while at the same time allowing each one’s character to shine through just enough to appreciate them on their own. Unfortunately, while both the ravioli and sauce tasted fantastic on their own, their tastes were too similar and it was too much of a battle for center stage when served together.

The good news is that there is also such a thing as happy mistakes, and this could very well be my happiest. The pumpkin cream sauce was absolutely delicious, and while it may have been too much for the ravioli, it works beautifully served over penne! If you are looking for a good pumpkin pasta dish, my first recommendation is the penne with pumpkin cream sauce. The ingredients are simple, and there’s not much time or effort needed to prepare this meal. If you do have more time on your hands and are in the mood to roll and stuff your own ravioli, then you can’t go wrong with the pumpkin ravioli. I suggest serving it with Mario Batalli’s Brown Butter and Sage Sauce.

So there you have it, folks….two delicious pumpkin pasta recipes.  Next week, I’ll be sharing a classic pumpkin treat, Coffee Can Pumpkin Bread! You can also check out my Pumpkin Amaretto Risotto recipe that I posted last year, and is now part of our annual pumpkin rotation.

 PENNE WITH PUMPKIN CREAM SAUCE

2 tbsp butter
2-3 tspn flour
1/4 tspn cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 tspn salt
*3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tblspn parmesan cheese

*Note – this recipe calls for milk. No whipping cream necessary. I actually had good results with vanilla soy too!

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tsp flour to melted butter and stir to make a liquidy roux. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cook for 30-60 seconds.

Turn heat to low and whisk in milk, whisking until there are no lumps. Stir in pumpkin puree and parmesan cheese until well-incorporated. Cook on low stirring frequently for 5-8 minutes or until thickened to desired consistency. Yo can add the additional tspn of flour to thicken up if needed. Be sure to whisk in until all lumps are gone.

Drizzle over 1/2 lb cooked penne, making sure not to oversaturate the pasta with the sauce. Top with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

 

PUMPKIN RAVIOLI

Filling
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup ricotta cheese

Basic pasta dough recipe
(click here for recipe)

Prepare and roll out pasta dough according to directions in above link. After rolling out pasta dough, combine and mix all filling ingredients in a bowl.

When pasta is rolled out, place one sheet of dough on piece of wax paper.

Mark the dough where you will be making the ravioli cuts. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each expected cut. Place a second sheet of dough on top (you may need to lightly brush the second sheet with an egg wash if the dough has dried out to help the sheets stick together). Press out the ravioli with a ravioli cutter. Continue to do this until all sheets are used. Dust the prepared ravioli with flour to avoid sticking. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently add the ravioli to the water and cook 4-5 minutes.

Serve with Mario Batalli’s Brown Butter and Sage Sauce.

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Honey Fig Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostata

 This week on my blog I’m very excited to share Emma Caperelli Loerky’s recipe for Honey Fig Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostata. I’m a big believer that any dish is better when you add some prosciutto. Throw in some figs and gorgonzola too? Fuggetaboudit!!!!! I’m also a huge junkie for Easter Ham Pie, and this dish could be the perfect mid-year counterpart. So when I got Emma’s e-mail with this recipe and photos, I knew this one would be a big hit…and my teasers on Facebook proved just that. Thanks again, Emma, for sharing yet another one of your amazing recipes!

Enjoy!

Honey Fig Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostata
By Emma Caperelli Loerky

A few months ago, when fresh figs were just popping up in the markets out here in San Diego, I bought some not knowing what exactly I was going to make with them. After doing some internet research, I came across this recipe:  http://www.whatsforlunchhoney.net/2010/09/honey-figs-gorgonzola-and-prosciutto.html. Next thing you know, I’m making a crostata. I followed the recipe almost exactly for the filling, but, because I was worried about converting the measurements from grams to cups, I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for the pastry shell – which was so flaky and buttery that it reminded me of a puff pastry. I don’t know if it was the fancy pastry flour that i subbed for the all-purpose flour, freezing the butter and flour for 30 minutes before assembling the dough, or the addition of sour cream to the recipe (maybe it was a combination of all three?), but this crust was perfect in every way! 

Fast forward to the present. I’m in the market shopping for ingredients to make lunch for a friend who is visiting me with her new, beautiful baby girl and once again there are those figs. So, guess what is on the menu? You guessed it. And the nice thing about this recipe is that it can be eaten right out of the oven, warm or at room temperature. And it reheats well, too. I even assembled it the morning of, loosely wrapped it with plastic wrap and placed the unbaked crostata in the fridge for about 2 hours until just before I was ready to bake it.

If you aren’t a fan of bleu cheese, I’m sure goat cheese would work well or even ricotta. However, if you do use ricotta cheese, I would be sure to strain it through a cheesecloth for at least and hour, as the extra moisture in it could make this delicate crust soggy.

One last thing, it’s difficult to say exactly how many figs you’ll need for this recipe. The original recipe says 5 – 6 figs depending on their size, but you can add as many or as little as you like. I’ve made this recipe twice, both times I used different figs and it turned out well each time. The first time I used Brown Turkey figs, which are large so I only needed about 6 figs. This time I used Black Mission figs, which are smaller than the Brown Turkey variety, so I needed a few more than the last time. 

For the pastry (Recipe for Smitten Kitchen): 

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
(I used King Arthur Flour’s Unbleached Pastry Flour with terrific results)
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

Glaze:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

For the filling (Recipe from What’s For Lunch, Honey?):
About 1 to 1 1/2 cups Gorgonzola (or to taste)
5 – 6 figs (or more depending on your taste and the type/size fig you use), cut into quarters or eighths (one again, depending on their size)
2-3 tablespoons mild honey (I found 2 tablespoons to be plenty)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, removed from the stem.
About 4 ounces Prosciutto (I didn’t want the Prosciutto to be too overwhelming, so I used about 2 slices, and I used scissors to cut it into slivers).


Directions:
Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough. Using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or you can refrigerate the dough overnight (as I did). If you do make the dough ahead of time, be sure to allow the dough to sit out at room temperature for a few minutes before you roll it out.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (or, as Smitten Kitchen recommends, use parchment paper. It makes it much easier to move the crostata from the baking sheet onto a plate after baking). Sprinkle the Gorgonzola evenly onto the bottom of the dough, leaving a 2 inch border. Place the figs on top of the cheese. Drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with the fresh thyme leaves. Fold the edges over the filling and pleat it as you go along to allow the dough to fit, and creating a crust for the crostata. Brush the crust with the egg yolk mixture.

Bake the crostata until it is golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes. Please note:  The original recipe for the pastry says 30 – 40 minutes, but in my oven it was done after approximately 30 minutes. I recommend you watch the dough carefully after the first 20 minutes. When finished baking, sprinkle the crostata with the Prosciutto, and let it sit for 5 minutes before transferring to a plate. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

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