Pumpkin Bread

Fall really showed up out of nowhere this weekend.  For the past few weeks, the temperature had been in the mid- to high-70s, and it had been extremely humid.  But today’s high is only 66 and the low is 42!  There are only three days with highs over 70 degrees in the 15-day forecast.  In my opinion, there’s no place that can match New England for fall, and I’m so excited to be here to enjoy it.

pumpkin-bread-sliced
Of course, the arrival of fall means the arrival of my favorite flavors of the year: apples and apple cider, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg… the list goes on.  Every fall, without fail, pumpkin bread is one of the very first things that I make to welcome in the season.  My dad took a loaf of this bread to work one year, and his coworkers devoured it.  It is, without a doubt, my favorite pumpkin bread recipe.  It is both earthy and spicy, with the flavors of pumpkin and cinnamon and cloves.  It’s perfect for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert.  It’s hearty and dense and nothing is more comforting than curling up with some tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and a slice of this pumpkin bread.
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Cinnamon Scones

Fall is coming!  It’s still quite warm during the day, but when I take Sandy for her evening walks, you can tell that it’s not far off.  Last weekend, we got an early taste of fall thanks to Tropical Storm Hermine.  It was overcast and windy and rainy and a little bit cooler.  There’s nothing better during that kind of weather than a mug of tea and some scones.  Cinnamon is one of my favorite fall flavors, so I decided to try out cinnamon scones, but I have never seen cinnamon chips at the store.  I did a little bit of research, and learned that some of the ones sold in stores don’t even contain cinnamon!  But it turns out that you can make some at home!  I found a recipe for homemade cinnamon chips from Bright Eyed Baker.

cinnamon-chip-scones

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Deployment Baking: Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks

My mother-in-law and I have been taking turns with sending care packages to Kyle.  We alternate in order to spread out the goodies for him, and to give ourselves a little bit of a break between each package.  According to Kyle, we are the only ones who send care packages with homemade baked goods; everyone else just receives packages with store-bought items.  Of course, some people don’t like baking, and Kyle and I might be the only couple that doesn’t have kids, so I probably have more time to spare on making things from scratch than other people do.  And I don’t doubt that everyone in Kyle’s squadron is very happy to receive their packages from home.  But they all come running whenever a package from my mother-in-law or me shows up to sample all the baked goods.  If you have a loved one who is deployed and are sending a care package, try to include a baked treat if you can spare the time!  You don’t have to get elaborate with it.  Even something as simple as homemade cookies or brownies is a huge morale booster and brings a little piece of home to wherever your loved one may be.

breadsticks

Crispy and cheesy breadsticks!

I decided to do something savory for Kyle’s latest care package.  Everything else I had baked was sweet.  So I found a recipe for cheesy garlic breadsticks in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook (their official name is Garlic Comtè breadsticks, but I couldn’t find comtè cheese).  I’m sure you have a few questions right now, namely: 1) Another Thomas Keller recipe? 2) Might I be a little obsessed? 3) Can I put some more variety on this blog? In order, yes, absolutely yes, and I promise I will (if for no other reason than I’m sure I would get sued if I reprinted Thomas Keller’s entire cookbook for free). But these looked too good to pass up!  In the cookbook, the notes say that they were created in an attempt to make something better than Cheez-its.  Well, I would say these are pretty darn good if you like salty and cheesy and garlicky flavors!

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Deployment Baking: Flapjacks

I set myself a challenge to try baking different recipes to send to Kyle in his care packages. His days are incredibly monotonous, and I want the packages to have a variety of new and different treats.

Of course, the biggest difficulty is trying to decide what sorts of recipes will keep well, because there’s no way to predict how long the package will spend in the mail. The first package I sent to him was FIFTY (yes, 50!) days in the mail, but today he received the latest one after only eight days in the mail. As I was planning out a care package, I came across a recipe for Flapjacks in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. In the U.S., if anyone said, “Would you like some flapjacks?” I would assume they were making pancakes. But British flapjacks are these oatmeal bars made with butter and golden syrup and sugar and they are unlike anything I had ever had before.

Flapjacks.jpg

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of my flapjacks because I didn’t think they looked like much and didn’t expect them to be so well-received, but I found these on a Google image search from recipes100.com.

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Birthday Cake Macarons

Recently, Kyle and I went into New York City for the weekend.  We absolutely had to stop by Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, where we sampled many different things, including, of course, his macarons.  We tried the vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel, and birthday cake macarons, and each one was incredible.  As soon as you bite into the shells, they give way to a chewy interior and an intensely flavored filling.

It just so happens that today is my best friend Stef’s birthday, and she has a lot of food sensitivities.  I decided to send her macarons because it would be a sweet treat, but the  ingredients and size would limit any food sensitivity issues that she might have.  So I wanted to figure out how I could make birthday cake macarons like the ones from Bouchon!  Continue reading

First Post – Cake Piping Class and Buttercream Frosting

Hello, everyone!  This is my first post on this blog, so there are a couple things you should know as we get started.

First, I am a completely amateur baker.  I have no professional training whatsoever.  Second, I am not good at improvising.  I think this goes along with the first point; I cannot make up my own recipes.  I generally have to follow some other recipe somewhere and I don’t know enough about baking science to try to improvise.

Finally, this blog is meant to be a diversion for me to pass time while my husband is deployed.  It may continue after he gets back in early 2017, but we shall see.  With that said, I don’t expect that anyone other than some friends and my mom will probably ever read it, but if you are a stranger and happen to come across this, I would love for you to leave a comment to say hello!  Now, onto the real stuff.

I took a cake piping class today!  It was the first cooking/baking class I have ever taken, so it was very exciting.   Continue reading