Random Recipe: Pumpkin Honey Beer Bread

First time ever. I completely missed posting a blog yesterday. Blame it on pregnancy brain. Alas. I do have a great recipe to share with you today. You can see I am continuing my pumpkin theme. I cannot get enough, and since pumpkin eventually gives away to peppermint and egg nog, well, you have to take advantage while fall is upon us. Can you believe that Costco already has their peppermint pretzels? It is not even Halloween yet and we can already purchase favorite treats for Christmas. Will we soon be able to purchase Christmas treats in July?

This recipe is a must try. It is, dare I said it? (Moist!) Yummy, and the perfect treat. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. We actually had it for dinner last night with tomato soup. It is worth trying this fall.

Pumpkin Honey Beer Bread

2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup beer (at room temperature)
1/4 cup honey
4 large eggs
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Shortening (to grease pan)

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, and beat at low speed just until blended.

2. Whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, and beat at low speed just until blended. Divide batter between 2 greased (with unsalted butter) and floured 9 x 5 loaf pans.

3. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool bread in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool until you’re ready to devour it!

All about bread

Have you ever thought about bread? I mean really thought about it? Before my pregnancy, I rarely ate bread. Occasionally we would have some at a restaurant, or at someone’s house, but generally speaking we did not have bread in the house. I have always (and still do) feel like bread is a filler food. I am one that believes that we should always fill our bodies with food that is fuel. Such as vegetables and fruit.

Until being pregnant. Now I cannot get enough bread. I have had a few cravings. Nothing too exciting. Chex-Mix, animal crackers, and for the entire pregnancy I have wanted bread. In the form of toast, sandwiches, and pizza. It is the only thing that ever sounds good. My OB said that my appetite would come back in the second trimester. It has not. Nothing ever sounds good. I never really am interested in eating. Except I know when I need to. When I start to get nausea (although I never had morning sickness) I know it is time for a snack or a meal. When that happens I only want bread.

It is comfort food. If you think about it, we have the option for bread in many different meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in different cultures (roti, naan, flatbread, to name a few). Now we even have gluten-free. You can have it plain, or toppings galore. I remember as a young child when I did not feel well, or when I wanted a treat, my grandma would make me toast with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top. My dad loved peanut butter on his toast, my mom loved apple butter. At the moment, in the middle of this pregnancy, I want jelly. There have been times though when all I wanted on my toast was melted butter.

Now bread has become a phenomenon via the not so new culinary concept of “toast.” In San Francisco and New York you can find menu items such as buttered toast for $4. Yes. Maybe it is on high quality brioche, but still. I might sound like my grandma but I can almost get a loaf for that amount. In any case, bread, toast, what have you, it is my comfort food of choice as I ease into my third trimester.

My new weakness: Sourdough English Muffins

yum!

yum!

English Muffins. Who does not love them? My sister-in-law brought me her sourdough starter when she visited over Easter weekend. I shared my first week with a friend, was pooped the second weekend after my 1/2 marathon so threw some starter out, but this weekend, I baked!

She left me with a recipe to make English Muffins. The photo to the left is what they looked like after done. Who knew that making English Muffins were so easy? Especially if you have a sourdough starter growing in your refrigerator.

We do not eat a ton of bread. We would love to, but it is not what keeps our energy going. We stick more to fruit, vegetables, and proteins, but sometimes you just want fresh-baked goods. Over the weekend, I made these yummy English Muffins. Essentially you prep the starter to raise over night. It takes only a few minutes to prepare it. Let it rise. You can let it rise up to 24 hours. Many of the bread recipes that I follow you have to let it rise for a specific number of hours, so it is great that this recipe has flexibility. An opened ended recipe means you have more flexibility to live your life, and still have bread. Once you are ready to finish the English Muffins, it will only take a little less than 30 minutes to finish. Add a few ingredients, form into the muffins and cook on the stove. Finished. Use, or freeze for the future!

I am also exploring using the starter for other bread recipes. Next week I might make pizza dough!

Erin’s Sourdough English Muffins (recipe from my sister-in-law)

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter (thick or thin)
  • 1 cup liquid (water*, milk, fermented dairy, coconut milk…)
  • 2 cups flour (your choice)
  • add-ins like seeds, dried fruit, or chopped nuts… (optional)

Next day:

  • 1 tablespoon raw honey (or any other sweetener)
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon sea salt of choice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

*Note: The English muffins will turn out if you use water instead of full fat or fermented dairy and if you add more flour initially for easier kneading. However, the results will not be as soft on the outside or as tender on the inside once you’ve finished the cooking.

Place 1/2 cup sourdough starter (thick or thin) into a medium size bowl. Pour onto that the 1 cup of liquid. This is the first place where the recipe is very flexible. Your liquid could be water, milk, any fermented dairy, coconut milk. Stir to combine starter and liquid. If your sourdough starter is very stiff, you might need an extra 1/4 cup of liquid.

Once combined, add 2 cups of flour to the mixture. Use any combination of flours, white wheat, whole wheat, and rye. Stir well to combine. Cover and let your dough sit overnight, even up to 24 hours. In the morning, you will be able to tell that your sourdough has been at work.  

On top of your soaked dough, sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon salt (I use 1 teaspoon celtic sea salt), 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 tablespoon honey. Use a wooden spoon to push/cut/stir in your newly added ingredients. Don’t worry about incorporating it perfectly; you will be kneading it in just a moment.

Pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto your counter and spread it around with your hand and then rub your hands together. Dump out your dough onto the oiled spot and knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes. The purpose of this kneading is to incorporate the honey, baking soda, and salt. After this, take a pizza cutter and separate  dough into 8 equal portions. Dust your hands with flour before you shape each muffin.

With dusted hands, pick up a portion and gently shape it into your muffin, usually about 1 finger thick and maybe 2-1/2 inches wide. Place your muffins on a lightly floured or cornmealed (greased might work if you want to stay away from newly added flour) sheet of wax paper or parchment paper. Cover with a dish towel and let rest while preheating griddle or skillet.

About 5 minutes before you want to griddle/skillet your muffins, set the heat to mediumish. You do not want the muffins to brown too quickly because the insides need a chance to cook. Carefully transfer the muffins onto your heat source. Cook the muffins for about five minutes on each side. You can take a little peek every now and again to make sure the bottoms are not getting too brown. When it is time to flip, do this carefully. Your muffins will plump up beautifully, and you do not want to deflate them by being too rough. Cook for the second five minutes. Now, if you find that the outside edge of your muffin is not as done as you like, feel free to pop these into a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

Does the Internet mean we have more time to bake bread?

We can complain about the Internet and how little privacy we have, and how much it sucks our time each day, but over the weekend I had another view. As I was preparing mentally for the half marathon I ran on Sunday, I did some online searching about what to eat the morning of the race, what to wear, what to expect afterwards, etc.

The thought crossed my mind about how easy it was for me to find information that I needed in a fairly quick timeframe. Now, I do not know how accurate the information is, but I had plenty of it to sift through. What would I have done 15 years ago?

  1. Called many friends or acquaintances and asked about their experience (takes much more time than the Internet)
  2. Gone to the library and taken out a few books or encyclopedia on the subject (even more time)
  3. Consulted a running store, or found a local expert (time depends on how knowledgeable and accessible each are to me)

While we complain about how we spend too much time online, I wonder if we are actually smarter and if there are times when we save time. We do not have to wait long for answers to our questions or leave our homes. We can attain specific information without much effort, allowing us to spend more time making bread or whatever we deem important in life.

What do you think?