pumpkin cinnamon rolls

The problem with the internet is that you don’t get to believe, even for a minute, that you were the first to come up with an idea. First there was sushi bowls, most recently it was eggnog martinis, and last month there were pumpkin cinnamon rolls. I thought I was a genius. Pumpkin and cinnamon! A classic combination! I could just take pumpkin bread dough, roll it out, spike the cinnamon filling mixture with cloves and nutmeg, and top it with a cream cheese glaze. It’s the perfect combination of pumpkin and accents! I deserve accolades! Awards! At the very least, lots of blog hits!

Oops, never mind. Many many people have done this before. Still. I’m convinced that my pumpkin cinnamon rolls are better than theirs. It’s all about balance – cinnamon rolls should be decadent treat worth the splurge, but you might as well save the calorie-dense ingredients for where they’re going to make the most impact.

I’m convinced that a super rich dough for cinnamon rolls isn’t worth the calories. Once the dough is filled with a sugary spiced filling and topped with a creamy glaze, extra fat in the dough just gets lost. If you don’t notice it, why bother with it? On that same note, I used oil in the dough instead of butter. You can use butter if you prefer, but again – the taste of butter will be overpowered by the filling and glaze, but the added tenderness of oil compared to butter will not go unnoticed.

Pumpkin, cinnamon, cream cheese, and sugar – for breakfast! The dough part is light, soft, and orange; the filling is sweet and spice and everything nice; and the glaze, well, it has cream cheese. I told you I was a genius.

One year ago: Twice-Baked Potatoes
Two years ago: White Chocolate Lemon Truffles, Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Vanilla Bean Caramels

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

You can chill the rolls after they’re shaped, rolled, and cut, but before rising. They’ll still need several hours in the morning to finish rising, bake, and cool, although you can speed the rising along by giving them a very warm place to get started.

A riskier method to get cinnamon rolls at a reasonable breakfast hour is to adjust the amount of yeast. I used ½ teaspoon yeast instead of 2 teaspoons. Your first rise will take several hours. Then you can roll, cut, and chill the dough (or freeze it and defrost in the refrigerator). Take the prepared, chilled rolls out of the fridge before you go to bed and they should be perfectly risen and ready to bake when you wake up.

Dough:
4-4 ½ cups (20 to 21¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
⅓ cup (2.33 ounces) sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Filling:
¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or a mixture of mostly cinnamon with some cloves, nutmeg, and ginger)
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter

Glaze:
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1 ounce cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

1. Stand mixer: Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. In a large measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs; whisk in the pumpkin and oil. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the liquid ingredients. Continue mixing on medium-low until the dough is elastic and supple, about 8 minutes. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – soft but not sticky.

By hand: Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs; whisk in the pumpkin and oil. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir the mixture until the dough comes together. Transfer it to a floured board or countertop and knead, incorporating as little flour as possible, for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and supple. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – soft but not sticky.

2. Mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

3. After the dough has doubled in bulk, press it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border at the far edges. Roll the dough, beginning with the long edge closest to you and using both hands to pinch the dough with your fingertips as you roll. Using unflavored dental floss or a serrated knife, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces and place the rolls cut-side up in the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours.

4. When the rolls are almost fully risen, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of one reads 185 to 188 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the glaze ingredients together until smooth. Glaze the rolls and serve.

cardamom crumb cake

If you top cake with buttery sugary crumbs instead of buttery sugary frosting, suddenly it’s breakfast! Not that I’m complaining, mind you. And not that crumbs on top will stop me from eating it for dessert as well as breakfast.

It’s called cardamom cake, but cardamom isn’t the only important flavor. Orange zest in both the crumb and cake compete with coffee, and the orange wins but isn’t too strong. I suppose I wouldn’t have been opposed to more spice or even more bitter coffee, but the cake seemed pretty perfect just how it was. And really, what could be better than cake for breakfast?

Jill chose this recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has it posted. I doubled the salt.  (As well as baked it in heart-shaped muffin cups, obviously. The whole recipe makes 12 muffins. Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes.)

One year ago: Cafe Volcano Cookies
Two years ago: Butterscotch Pudding

apple coconut family cake

I try to maintain a fairly open mind about desserts. I mean, if chocolate and prunes can be great together, who knows what else is out there? But you can’t deny that apples and coconut is weird.

Most pairings are based on geographical and seasonal commonalities – lime and coconut, tomatoes and basil, strawberries and rhubarb. Coconuts are grown in the tropics; apples grow in temperate regions. Apples ripen in the fall; coconuts grow where there are no seasons. You just aren’t likely to find these two trees growing next to each other.

That doesn’t mean they make a bad combination, just an odd one. I didn’t not enjoy it. In fact, the cake was so fluffy and moist that I did enjoy it.  But not as much as chocolate and prunes.

Amber chose this cake for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Sablés
Two years ago: Buttery Jam Cookies

pumpkin oatmeal cookies

One of my coworkers offered me a cookie recently, and while I try to be on my best eating behavior at work, I figured I had to be polite, right? And then he offered to leave the rest of the batch with me, clearly displaying the difference between the metabolism of an active male in his early thirties and that of a female of the same age. The whole container? Just one cookie first thing in the morning was a splurge.

No, when someone offers me a delicious cookie, I don’t eat the whole batch. I ask for the recipe.

Although these pumpkin cookies don’t make that easy. They aren’t the kind of cookie that you eat one of, savoring every bite, and then feel sated. All that fiber makes them feel more like a snack, like they should be healthy and you should be able to eat a few at a time. Alas, a petite (aka short) thirty-something moderately-active female can never forget all that butter. That’s why I prefer to be on the giving side of cookies instead of the receiving side.

One year ago: Chicken Empanadas, Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Port Reduction, Slice-and-Bake Brown Sugar Cookies
Two years ago: Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Multigrain Pancakes

Printer Friendly Recipe
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from allrecipes)

2½ cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) white sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two baking pans with parchment paper or a silicone mat. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter and both sugars until fluffy, about one minute. Add the egg, beating until incorporated, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

3. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto the prepared baking pans. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Let the cookies cool slightly on the pans before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

cranberry apple galette

I used to have a friend who always served steamed broccoli with her lasagna. “Everyone does salad with their lasagna”, she scoffed. But it seems to me that everyone does it because it works so well.

Cranberry and orange are another combination that is classic simply because it’s good. Cranberry and lime…well, I don’t know, because I wasn’t brave enough to try it. I do love tart foods, but since I knew I’d be sharing these, I took the safe and familiar route with cranberry and orange.

And it tasted just as good as I expected. I’m almost positive the cranberry-lime variation would have been wonderful too. Of course I can’t be sure, having taken the safe route.

The sisters of Celestial Confections chose this galette for Tuesdays with Dorie, and they have the recipe posted. Make minis at your own time-consuming risk, by cutting 3-inch circles from the rolled dough and stuffing them in muffin cups before filling. Don’t bother trying to fold the sides in. Bake until bubbling and browned, 18-20 minutes.  Also, I used this galette dough, because I already had some in the freezer.  I suspect its malleability helps with maneuvering the dough circles into muffin cups.

One year ago: Cran-Apple Crisps
Two years ago: Rice Pudding

all-american, all-delicious apple pie

I’ve made all manner of banana cream pies for Dave, and yet he remains convinced that nothing beats Baker’s Square’s. I have my doubts, as I don’t believe he’s been to a Baker’s Square since I started baking for him. But I keep trying.

By contrast, he declared the first apple pie I made for him the best apple pie he’d ever had. Not that that keeps me from trying new recipes. Just last month (a few days before October’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipes were announced and I realized I’d be making more apple pie soon), I made a rum raisin apple pie that sounded great, but didn’t have quite the perfection of my normal recipe.

Clearly this calls for a comparison, especially because Dorie calls for tapioca as a thickener instead of apple pie’s standard flour. My original plan was to make side-by-side versions of Dorie’s recipe and my old favorite, but, like many cooking endeavors when I’m rushed, this one went awry. I underfilled both mini-pies (although at least I underfilled them equally), forgot the breadcrumbs and butter in Dorie’s, didn’t adequately stir the zest into the filling… Because the recipes are very similar, with the same ratio of apples to sugar to spices to thickener, it really ended up being a comparison of tapioca versus flour.

I couldn’t tell a difference – not in taste, not in texture, not in soupiness. Dave really enjoyed them both as well. Now I just need to keep him from trying Baker’s Square’s apple pie. One impossible pie standard to live up to is quite enough, thank you.

Emily chose this recipe for TWD, and she has it posted. My other favorite apple pie recipe is by Cooks Illustrated. It’s very similar, with an equal amount of flour substituting for the tapioca in Dorie’s, no breadcrumbs or butter, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice instead of the larger amount of zest that Dorie recommends.  In all photos, Dorie’s recipe is to the left (with the crimped edge, not forked).

One year ago: Allspice Crumb Muffins
Two years ago: Chocolate Cupcakes

caramel pumpkin pie

Bringing desserts to work is awesome. It gives me a chance to bake without wondering what in the world we’re going to do with all this stuff, people come by and say thanks, and I become known as “the girl who brings treats” instead of “the girl whose desk faces the men’s bathroom.”

The disadvantage is that sometimes I only eat just enough of what I bake for quality control. And by quality control, I mean, is this edible? And not, can I taste the caramel in this?

I didn’t detect the caramel in the few bites I had, and neither did the coworkers I accosted in the hallway when they were trying to enjoy their tartlets (pie-lets?) in peace. But we all agreed that it was good, and that’s all that matters.

Janell, who chose this for Tuesdays with Dorie, has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Split-Level Pudding
Two years ago: Pumpkin Muffins

fold-over pear torte

You didn’t think I’d miss a week of Tuesdays with Dorie, did you? I’ve been in the group for two and a half years, haven’t missed a week yet, and don’t plan to start now. Being late is, of course, a different story. Being late is what I do.

Although if I’d realized how involved this recipe was, I might have procrastinated enough to be even later – pie crust, peeled and chopped fruit, and a custard that involves a mixer. Having overzealously planned my weekend cooking (as always), I jumped in, rushed, without looking at the recipe, with the kitchen counters covered in dinner dishes.

My measurements were imprecise, my rolling was sloppy. While the tart baked, I shaped over-risen bagel dough, realizing too late that the tart and the bagels needed the same oven at the same time but at very different temperatures. The bagels won and the tart (torte?) was under-browned.

But good nonetheless. Pears and rummy custard and dough are such a great combination. Even if it was a lot of steps. It’s worth it to keep my unbroken record of not skipping a week (although not necessarily being on time).

Cakelaw chose this for TWD and has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart
Two years ago: Lenox Almond Biscotti

double apple bundt

I’m all confused about fall this year. I see bloggers baking with pumpkin. Pioneer Woman is sharing her Thanksgiving recipes. People are planning their Halloween costumes. And I just keep thinking: Isn’t it a little early?

It really isn’t. It’s October, which for years has been my official welcoming of fall. That’s when I accept that summer is over and that it’s time to bundle up, enjoy the leaves, and cook with pumpkin and apples. But in southern New Mexico, fall just means that it isn’t quite so hot all the time. It’s still hot. Just not in the morning.

Tuesdays with Dorie is going to convince me it’s fall even if the weather doesn’t, with a month of apple and pumpkin recipes.  Bundt cake with apple flavor coming from both fresh grated apples and apple butter is enough to make me pretend it’s fall here.  I’ll just close my eyes, enjoy this perfect cake, and imagine I’m surrounded by tall trees with fire-colored leaves.

Lynne chose this and has posted the recipe. I doubled the salt, left out the nuts and raisins, and did some complicated thing (you don’t want to know, trust me) to the glaze to make it caramelly.

One year ago: Cottage Cheese Pufflets
Two years ago: Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

tarte fine

My boss and I both teach a course at the local community college, in addition to our day job. It keeps us busy. Yesterday he said that he’s considered taking semesters off from teaching, but then he wonders what he would do with the extra time.

I’m taking next semester off, and I can tell you all sorts of things I’m going to do with that time. I’m going to work out more. I’m going to brew beer. I’m going to pay attention to my husband in the evenings. I’m going to keep in closer touch with my friends. I’m going to make petits fours again. I’m going to go to bed earlier and buy birthday presents on time and keep my house cleaner. (Okay probably none of that last stuff will happen, because I’ll be too busy making petits fours and brewing beer.)

Until then, thank goodness for easy apple tarts that can be made after a Sunday evening faculty meeting; whose flaky crust and softened apples make for a just reward for going to a work meeting on the weekend, while softening the blow of another rushed week ahead.

Leslie chose this tart for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. In between grading exams and writing blog entries on Sunday, I managed to make my own puff pastry. I’d forgotten how easy it is.

One year ago:  Flaky Apple Turnovers
Two years ago: Crème Brulée