Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

Pumpkin Doughnut 2Another great autumnal recipe for those of us who can’t get enough pumpkin. This recipe comes from November 2010 Everyday Food. I prefer making it in mini muffin tins, because they are pretty rich, and so good.

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

10 T. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 c. all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. coarse salt
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 1/4 c. pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
3/4 c. light brown sugar
2 large eggs

For the sugar coating
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups. Make batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway Seeds

On the off-chance that someone out there is looking for soda bread to make tonight (or this weekend), I thought I would post my favorite one that I’ve made–it comes from
The New Best Recipe. This is one of the variations that they list for classic soda bread, but I find it more interesting than the normal loaf, and it’s extremely easy to make. If you cook it in a dutch oven or cloche, it also turns out beautiful and crusty. If you want, of course, omit the raisins and caraway seeds, but to make the classic bread, also decrease the sugar by 2 T. and leave out the egg (but what fun would that be?).

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway Seeds

3 c. lower-protein unbleached all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury [I’ve used whatever I’ve had on had, and it’s okay, just be careful not to overwork the dough or it doesn’t have the right crumb; I’ve even included 1 c. whole wheat flour, and it works great]
1 c. plain cake flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 1/2 t. salt
4 T. unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 T. melted for the crust
1 1/4 c. buttermilk (or just add 1 T. lemon juice to regular milk and let it sit for a few minutes)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 c. raisins
1 T. caraway seeds

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl. Work the softened butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Combine the buttermilk and egg with a fork. Add the buttermilk-egg mixture, raisins, and caraway seeds to the flour mixture and stir with a fork just until the dough begin to come together. Turn out onto a flour-coated work surface; knead just until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12-14 turns. (Do not knead until the dough is smooth or the bread will be tough. You don’t want the bread to work up its gluten.)

3. Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. [I put mine in a cloche or dutch oven.] Score the dough by cutting a cross shape in the top of the loaf.

4. Bake, covering the bread with aluminum foil if it is browning too much, until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, 40-45 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and brush the surface with the melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30-40 minutes. Serve.

Navaho Fry Bread

So I actually got this to work! In the past, the dough has fallen apart or for whatever reason ended up in small fried-scone-type condition. This recipe allows for big ol’ rounds, the kind you can load up as Navaho tacos. I’m guessing the powdered milk is key, as is keeping the oil at a constant temperature (the hardest part for me). This recipe is Beth Hensperger’s from “Breads of the Southwest.”

4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 c. nonfat dry milk

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (yes, it’s a lot)

1 teas. salt

4 tbs. vegetable shortening or lard

1 1/2 c. very hot water

Flour or cornmeal for dusting

2 quarts vegetable oil for frying

1) Mix first 4 ingredients. Cut in shortening until crumbly.

2) Add water & mix well, until dough comes together in a ball.Knead no more than 10 times in bowl. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Cover loosely w/ plastic wrap, let rest at least 30 min.

3) Dust worksurface w/ flour or cornmeal. Pull off 2 to 3 inch balls of dough until done (there should be 16-20)  then cover with a damp towel. Roll out each piece one at a time into thin circles (leave the others covered). Keep the circles covered with plastic wrap. Let rest 20 min.

4) Heat 2 in. of oil in a Dutch oven, heavy wok, or fryer to 380 degrees. Fry a few at a time, about 2 minutes per side. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove, drain on paper towels, keep warm at 200 degrees in oven if necessary.

5) Enjoy! For a sweet variant, add 1/4 c. honey with the hot water back in step 2.

Pão de Queijo

Little Cheesy BreadsIf you have been to Brazil, or know anyone who has (like my husband), they will undoubtedly know what these divine little cheese breads are. If you haven’t yet been introduced, pão de queijo are street food throughout Brazil, and they are unbelievably terrific. A batch of these makes about 200, and we usually eat 100 of them the night we make them (and all feel a little sick, of course, too). Tonight, Peter stuffed three in his mouth all at the same time, and then lowered his face to the table to pick up another. Sadly, Henry too had four in his mouth. Definitely a safety hazard.

Pão de Queijo

4 c. milk
1 c. vegetable oil
2 lbs. polvilho doce/sweet yucca starch (in Rhode Island, this is found on the international food aisles of almost all grocery stores, by the bagged beans. It’s white and powdery–looks like corn starch. Out of state, it might be found in latin markets. I’m not sure.)
1 lb. mineiro cheese or 12 oz. parmesan (or romano) cheese, grated
1 T. salt
5 eggs, lightly beaten

Place yucca starch in a large bowl. Boil the milk and oil in a large pot, watching carefully since it can quickly bubble over the sides. Remove milk mixture from the heat and pour over the starch, and mix together well with a large wooden spoon. Let the mixture cool (about 25 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 350. Once the mixture is cooled, add the cheese to the milk mixture, and knead well, until mostly incorporated. Add the beaten eggs and salt, and knead thoroughly (I do this by hand and it’s extremely messy, but I can’t get them to turn out correctly otherwise). The dough will be soft and sticky. With wet hands, form the dough into teaspoon-sized balls, rewetting your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Placed on greased sheets and cook for 30 minutes. (I usually use 3 baking sheets total to make a full batch).

If you can find the ingredients, I would really recommend making these. If you can’t, next time you come over, I’ll make them for you.

Homemade Tortillas

If you have never made a flour tortilla before, tonight is the night to do it. You won’t believe how great they are, and how simple they are to make. Really, commit to trying this.


1 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. white flour (of course you can use 3 c. of white flour if you prefer; I’m just always trying to add a little wheat here and there)
1/2 -1 t. salt (I like them to have 1 t., but this might be too salty for some)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. shortening (you can use butter, but this is the one and only thing I use shortening for)
1-1 1/4 c. hot water

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the shortening and mix well with a fork until crumbly-looking (kind-of like mixing pastry or pie dough). Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Knead a few times, adding a little flour if necessary, then let rest, covered with plastic wrap, for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12-15 sections, and roll each section into a ball. Heat a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat (the same temp I use to cook pancakes on my stove). Take one ball at a time (keep the other covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel), and smash into a 3-4″ disk. Then, using a rolling pin, roll into a circle/tortilla shape. Put in the skillet, and flip as soon as large bubbles form (there will be brown spots on the underside). Continue to roll and cook the rest of the tortillas.

These make the most terrific quesadillas in the world. Really, try this.

Nancy’s Incredible Cornbread

This was a recipe Rex’s mom gave me when we got married, and I love it. Rex calls it Corncake, because it really does taste like cake (isn’t that how cornbread should be?). I’ve made some adjustments to the original recipe: I’ve cut the butter in half, and substituted one cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of the white. You’re welcome to try the original as well; it’s much richer, of course, but I think the less-fat version is also quite amazing.

Nancy’s Incredible Cornbread

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 c. buttermilk (or milk with 2 T. lemon juice or vinegar added)
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 c. cornmeal
1 c. wheat flour
1 c. white flour

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 9x 13″ pan, or line with parchment paper. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In another bowl or standing mixer, cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time (go slowly so the mixture doesn’t curdle). Alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes. I’m sure you’ll enjoy these!

FYI, honey butter is 1/2 c. softened butter stirred with 1-2 T. honey. A perfect accompaniment.