Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cider Doughnuts

The first time I had cider doughnuts I was traveling with the hub through Vermont in the fall. We stopped at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where in addition to cider, they sell fresh, hot doughnuts just pulled from the fryer. It's impossible not to buy a doughnut (or six). This recipe is reminiscent of those treats.

Although baked, these cake doughnuts have all the flavor of the fried version. They're tender, sweet and since they don't require yeast, come together fast. You'll need a doughnut pan - both sizes (regular and mini) will work with this recipe. I like a coating of cinnamon sugar, but you can also roll in powdered sugar or dunk in a glaze.

They're great for breakfast but I've also used as a base for dessert: just top with a dollop of ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce. These doughnuts don't hold well, so eat them the day their made.

Lightly coat a doughnut pan with non-stick spray. I like mini doughnuts.

Combine batter ingredients. The batter will be fluffy.

Fill the wells. I sometimes place the batter in a piping bag to make the job easier.

Bake doughnuts, cool five minutes and turn out of pan.

Roll in your choice of cinnamon-sugar, powdered sugar or glaze.

Mini doughnuts for breakfast! Pretty and delicious.

Cider Doughnuts
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes about 24 mini doughnuts

2 tablespoons soft butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a standard or mini doughnut pan. Beat together the butter, oil, sugar, salt, and spices. Beat in the boiled cider, then the egg. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour. Spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing the tops.

Bake the doughnuts for 10-12 minutes for a standard doughnut or 7-9 minutes for mini doughnuts, until a cake tester inserted into one comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. Roll in powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Processing Pumpkins: Step-by-Step Videos

Recently Bren Haas and I got together to talk fresh pumpkin processing. Together we hosted #CanningLive: Pumpkin Edition. Our previous #CanningLive event covered applesauce making & preserving, but this time we thought it would be fun to share the process via Periscope videos.

In case you missed it, the videos are below. Each shows a phase in the process from fresh pumpkin to puree to pie. You can also check out my previous blog on pumpkin processing, plus lots of pumpkin recipes including pumpkin cinnamon rolls and my favorite pumpkin pie.

One big Fairytale pumpkins will provide you with pies all year!

How to prepare and roast fresh pumpkin.

Pureeing roasted pumpkin.

Draining pumpkin, my compost bin and messy countertops.   

Packaging the pumpkin puree for the freezer. USDA does 
not recommend canning pumpkin puree. 

Bonus: Making homemade whipped cream for your pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie

We grow a few varieties of eating pumpkins. Each fall we pick and process the crop into puree that we freeze for use in baked goods throughout the year. The flavor of a Fairytale or Long Island Cheese pumpkin is richer and more complex that commercially canned pumpkin.

A freezer full of pumpkin inspires me to find new ways to use it. The puree can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. I like it in cakes, scones and muffins as well as soups. My latest favorites include pumpkin cinnamon rolls and pumpkin mousse. And of course, pie. We eat pumpkin pie September through March.

I've tried lots of recipes, but Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie is the best version of a traditional pie. It's easy, fast and has a good balance of spices that compliment, rather than overpower, the pumpkin flavor. It's delicious plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.

A Long Island Cheese pumpkin on the vine.

A few large pumpkins provide lots of puree.
This will hold in the freezer for a year.

Prepare a 9-inch crust. Here's my favorite crust recipe.

Combine sugar, spices and salt. I like to pass
my spices through a sieve to break up clumps.

Add eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees
and bake for 40 to 50 additional minutes. Cool 2 hours before cutting. 

If desired, top with homemade whipped cream.

Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
15 oz. fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1 can (12 fl. oz.)  evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Homemade Pie Crust

My love of pie started with my grandmother. When making a pie, she filled the leftover crust remnants with fruit filling (often apple) and twisted it up to form a dumpling. With more crust than a traditional piece of pie, we ate the dumpling in a bowl topped with milk.

While I don't often make those sweet dumplings today, I do make lots of pies. Fruit, cream, nut, even savory pies frequently appear on our table. I didn't start making pies until my late twenties when I realized good pies were hard to come by and if I wanted one, I'd have to make it.

The best crusts, both tender and flaky, are a combination of two fats. I typically use shortening, and since we process a hog each year, a bit of lard. If that doesn't sit well with you, consider using a combination of shortening and butter.

This recipe is a combination of several recipes. I've used it for years and find it nearly foolproof, easy and delicious. The pastry is easier to roll if it's refrigerated for 30 minutes before using, but depending on time, I often use it as soon as it's made.

This recipe makes one crust. For a double-crust pie, double the ingredients and roll half the dough for each crust. If your recipe calls for a pre-baked pastry, place crust in pie plate and line with a sheet of parchment paper. Fill crust with dried beans (or, omit paper and beans and thoroughly dock crust with the tines of a fork). Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Combine flour and salt. Cut in fat. Add water, shape into
a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll crust on a liberally floured surface. Roll from the center out to keep crust even thickness.

Place in pie plate: Make sure crust loosened from counter by
running a spatula under dough.  Flip half of dough over rolling pin.

Lift dough using pin. Place in pin in center of pie plate. Unroll pastry into plate.  

Gently push dough into corners of the plate. 

Trim dough and flute edges. Use in recipe.

Pie Pastry
Makes one crust for 9 inch pie
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening plus 1 Tbsp lard
3-4 Tbsp cold water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until you have a mix of large and small pieces of fat. Add water, 1 Tbsp at a time just until dough comes together. Do not overmix. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough, place in pie plate and use in recipe.

A note about using a food processor to make pastry: I prefer a pastry blender, rather than a food processor to cut in the fat. Pastry that's made in a food processor can be easily over processed, developing a texture of fine sand. An over processed crust will be mealy rather than flaky.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Game Day Snack: Caramelized Onion Dip

Fall is my favorite time of year. It means cooler weather, a respite from growing and preserving food, and more couch surfing on the weekend while watching football games (or Netflix). Admittedly, if my Buckeye's aren't playing, my focus is on the snacks rather than the game.

Whether or not we entertain on game day, I usually make snacks. In fact, I keep a list of appetizers and finger foods on a handwritten list near the stove (in a pile of papers that includes the grocery list, new recipes and other important notes). A variety of food that's utensil optional makes for easy noshing couchside. It's a favorite way to spend a chilly fall afternoon.

 With a sour cream and mayo base, this dip is rich. For a lighter version, replace all or part of the sour cream with Greek yogurt/light mayo and serve with vegetable dippers instead of chips. It's best made a day in advance as the the flavor intensifies as it sits in the refrigerator overnight.

Don't be put off by the large pile of onions - they'll cook down.

Occasionally stir to prevent burning. These need to cook longer.

The onions are finished when they've cooked down and deep golden brown.

The house smells great!! Let the mixture cool to room temp and coarsely chop.

Combine onions with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate overnight.

Serve with your favorite chips or vegetables.

Caramelized Onion Dip
Adapted from

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Vidalia onions, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
2 large shallots, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rings
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Potato chips, for serving

In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and caramelized. Add the shallots and saute for 8 to 10 more minutes, until the onions and shallots are dark brown. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, then chop the onion mixture into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Fold in the onion mixture. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Serve with potato chips.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cinnamon-Swirl Pumpkin Rolls

Each fall we process our eating pumpkins and freeze to enjoy throughout the year. Depending on the growing season,  I usually have plenty of pumpkin puree. I use most of it in baked goods, but use to make bisque, oatmeal and pudding. 

These delicious breakfast rolls combine pumpkin, whole grain flour and dried fruit to provide a hearty start to your day. If you don't eat them all, they re-warm well in the microwave. I added the dried cranberries and swapped out the crystallized ginger for pecans.

Combine dough ingredients in a mixer until a shaggy dough comes together. 

Knead for a few minutes. Dough will form a soft, smooth ball.

Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise.

Roll dough on a greased surface to 14" x 22" rectangle.

Top with cinnamon sugar and dried fruit/crystallized ginger, if using.

Starting at the short end, roll dough to form a log. Pinch seam to seal.

Slice log into 9 equal pieces. Place in a greased 9" pan. Cover and let rise.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool 15 minutes.

Make glaze and drizzle over rolls. 

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Rolls
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lukewarm water*
1/4 cup soft butter
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 3/4 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
*Adjust the amount of water by the time of year or your climate. For summer, or in a humid enivronment, use the lesser amount of water. In winter, or in a dry climate, use the greater amount. 

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger, raisins, or dried cranberries, optional

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons milk, or enough to make a "drizzlable" glaze

Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you've made a soft, fairly smooth dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until it's almost doubled in bulk. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. Roll it into a 14" x 22" rectangle; the dough will be thin.

Make the filling: Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Spread over dough, leaving one short edge free of filling. Sprinkle with crystallized ginger or dried fruit (or both), if desired. Starting with the short end that's covered with filling, roll the dough into a log.

Cut the log into nine 1 ½"-thick rolls. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9" x 9" pan that's at least 2" deep. Set aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy.

Bake the rolls in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're lightly browned and feel set. Remove them from the oven, and set them on a rack. Turn them out of the pan, and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes. Towards the end of the cooling time, make the glaze.

To make the glaze: Heat the butter and milk together till the butter melts. Whisk into the sugar.  Drizzle the warm rolls with the warm glaze. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired.

Yield: 9 rolls.