Pumpkin Bread

When we make a pie crust, a teaspoon of sour cream (or crème fraîche to be more precise) is required for a little moisture and flavor. Often this means we’re opening a new container. And if you’ve bought dairy products in Germany, you know how crappy the packaging is — unresealable, and in inconvenient sizes to boot. So then there’s a barely-used, broken-seal sour cream/crème fraîche hanging around.

Fortunately, there is a solution: Pumpkin Bread. We found the recipe on food.com and gave it a shot with just a few modifications and metric conversions of our own.

1/2 cup (100g) butter
1 cup (209g) sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (207g) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger — hit up ochef.com for some ratios to choose from)
1 cup (330g) pumpkin purée
1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraîche (100g) or 1/2 cup plain yogurt
optional chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, whatever)

Cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Stir flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt together and add that dry mixture to the wet mixture. Add the pumpkin, sour cream, and stir. If you’re using nuts, then fold them in after the pumpkin and sour cream.

Bake in a greased/floured loaf pan at 350°F (177°C). for at least 1 hour; ours took about 1.5 hours to pass the clean-stick test.

Rosemary Focaccia

This recipe inspired us to make use of our rosemary plant, which stuck it out all winter in our back room flower box and is still going strong at the time of writing. We’ve rewritten it a bit to reflect our own preferences (more garlic, more rosemary) and writing style and include metric equivalencies, where appropriate. It’s not all that hard to make, but it does require a lot of sitting around. Maybe not even as much as described here, but the mystical bread alchemy stuff eludes me beyond a certain point.

380 to 414g (2 3/4 to 3 cups) all-purpose flour (German type 550)
3/8 t instant yeast
470ml (a little less than 2 cups) warm water (70-90°F, 22-32°C)
3/4 t sugar
3/4 t salt
3 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T fresh rosemary
at least 12 cloves garlic, roasted in olive oil until soft and lightly brown
1 t large flake sea salt, optional

  1. In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2 3/4 cups flour and yeast.
  2. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the water and mix until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes.
  3. Increase the speed to medium and beat until dough thickens a bit and is very smooth. Add extra flour a few tablespoons at a time if needed until a bit stiffer but still a very runny dough resembling melted mozzarella.
  4. Add sugar and salt and beat until just incorporated.
  5. Spray or oil a large stainless steel bowl and scrape the dough into bowl. Lightly spray the top of the dough and cover with a towel. Allow the dough to rest about 2-3 hours in a warm place. It may grow in size, but ours didn’t much, and it was still yummy.
  6. focaccia_doughCoat a 12×17-inch sheet pan with a heaping tablespoon of olive oil. Pour the dough out onto the sheet pan and coat your hands with some of the remaining olive oil. Spread the dough as thinly as possible without tearing it.
  7. Let it relax for 10 minutes and continue until the dough fills up most of the pan. Let it sit about another hour to see if it rises. And maybe it won’t at all, but that’s OK too.
  8. Preheat oven to 475°F / 246°C.
  9. Place the whole cloves of roasted garlic into the dough, and tuck fresh rosemary leaves partway into the dough (to keep them anchored), and then sprinkle the salt, if desired. Place the pan on the lowest shelf in the oven preferably directly on top of a hot pizza stone.
  10. focaccia_breadBake 13-16 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve almost immediately. Make sure hot oil doesn’t drip from the pan out onto your besandaled foot and cause your wife alarm as you shriek like a little girl.


Garlic Bread

Our Netto practically across the street from us has closed with very little warning (about a week). This is bad news; it means the only grocery store on the island is the Biomarkt next to the Netto. Not that the Biomarkt itself is inherently bad, but the selection is not terribly good and everything there is expensive. One of the things we won’t be able to just stop in and pick up at Netto anymore is frozen bake-it-yourself garlic bread.

But then I found this recipe — and maybe that’s a silver lining. This is fast, easy, cheap, and most importantly, tasty.

1 baguette
5 T (62g) butter, softened
2 t olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 t oregano
salt and pepper to taste
a little shredded cheese (we like fluffy parmesan)

Cut the baguette in half the long way, splitting it open. Cut the halves into serving-sized pieces. In a small bowl, mix butter, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread slices. On a medium baking sheet, arrange the slices evenly and broil a few minutes, until slightly brown. Check frequently so they do not burn. Remove from broiler. Top with cheese and return to broiler another minute or two, until cheese is slightly brown and melted. Serve at once.

Basil Cornbread

Cliff is nutty for cornbread. I could take or leave it, until I made this one. Now, I’m a bit more amenable to it – especially with a pot of chili. I found this one here and deviated very little from the original, however, I’m thinking of leaving out the basil and adding jalapeños and a handful of shredded cheddar. I’ll update if I do it and it works.

2 c cornmeal
1 c flour
1/2 c sugar (I used less – I think you could get away with 1/4 c)
4 tsp baking powder (yes, 4)
1 tsp salt
1/2 c chilled unsalted butter, diced (I don’t think chilled is necessary, but I’m trying to follow directions)
1 1/2 c buttermilk
3 large eggs
1/3 c chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 c fresh or frozen corn kernels

Preheat oven to 400° F (204° C) and grease a 9×9 pan. Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter with a pastry cutter until coarse meal forms. Set aside. Lightly whisk together buttermilk, eggs and basil until just combined. Stir cornmeal mixture into buttermilk mixture with a wooden spoon until all dry ingredients are moistened. Coarsely chop corn kernels in a food processor and stir into batter. Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and serve.