bread pumpkin & winter squash raw snacks

Pumpkin Seed Butter

Not pumpkin butter, pumpkin seed butter

I first tasted pumpkin seed butter at my local grower’s market and was utterly surprised at how delicious it was. The color is an unpromising shade of green that makes you think of kale or sprouts, but the flavor is anything but.  In fact, it tastes more like almond butter or peanut butter – rich, luxurious, wonderful mouth-feel.  I had to buy a jar of it.  I then proceeded to eat it directly from the jar with a spoon over the next 3 days.  It is that good.  It is, of course good on toast or anywhere a nut butter might be appreciated.  I find it especially delicious on Pumpkin Yeast Bread.  

bread pumpkin & winter squash

Pumpkin Yeast Bread

Warm, buttery color and flavor

Pumpkin Yeast Bread is a nice change from the traditional baking soda-leavened quick bread.  You may use any of the hard-shelled winter squashes, such as Butternut, Hubbard, Pink Banana, or even roasted sweet potato flesh for the Roasted Pumpkin  or Winter Squash Puree.  The dough is adaptable and may also be shaped into rolls.

bread D.I.Y.convenience foods freezing tutorial

Freezing Homemade Bread

Convenience, quality, and home-made taste is at hand in your freezer

When you have a stay-at-home day, bake in quantity.  (Try Favorite Buttermilk Bread, Big Soft Breadtwists or Cinnamon Sugar Wands (without the salt or sugar toppings), Home-Style Buttermilk Pan Rolls, Cinnamon Swirl Loaves, Pumpkin Yeast Bread, Classic French Bread. Allow the loaves to cool completely and firm up, at least four hours.  This will prevent frost crystals from forming inside the bread. For convenience, pre-slice the loaves.  This allows you to take just what you need from the freezer.

When all you need is a slice or two, simply use a table knife to separate slices from the frozen loaf and then thaw them quickly in your toaster.

 Double-bag loaves (rolls, too) in the heavy plastic bags that commercial bread comes in, knotting the opening tightly closed.   Be sure to squeeze any air out of plastic bags before sealing, or use a plastic drinking straw inserted in a small opening, and “suck” it out. 

A plastic drinking straw can be used to draw air from the bag.

Bread can be safely stored in the freezer practically indefinitely, but for best quality plan to use it within 6 weeks.  Frozen loaves thaw nicely in 2-4 hours at room temperature, with rolls requiring less time.  You should loosen, but not remove the wrappings while thawing, and wipe out any condensation that forms inside the bag.   You may also remove plastic wrappings, wrap the bread in aluminum foil, and heat in a low 275 – 300 degree F oven for 30 minutes, until warm throughout.  

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Honestly Homemade Bread

Tips on working bread-baking into your life
Traveling dough.  I couldn’t resist buckling it in for the photo : )  Usually I just set the bowl on the floor and cover it well to keep it out of direct sun.

In gathering my thoughts for this week’s program about homemade bread I so wanted to promise you that making your family’s bread would be neat, easy, and delicious.  I have tried all the shortcut methods to homemade bread – as you may have – in hopes that I could produce good bread with less work in less time.  And less mess, too.  Because let’s face it – baking is messy!

There are some very “okay” recipes out there for making bread that looks like it came from a bakery.  Unfortunately, most of these are sadly lacking in flavor.  I’m not satisfied with “okay” bread.  I want good bread.  Bread that is a pleasure to eat and that sustains me.  So while I cannot promise to offer you bread recipes that are “easy and mess-free!” I can promise that they are delicious.  It seems  one of the most important ingredients in good bread is… time.  And I can offer you some tips to get you thinking about how you can work bread-baking into your life.  



Classic French Bread

Refreshingly simple recipe for really good French bread at home

Baguettes with a light crisp crust, fluffy creamy crumb, and authentic flavor are within reach!  Actually, it could hardly be simpler.  Make the dough ahead and allow it to age in the refrigerator up to four days, gaining flavor all the while.  Bake a fresh loaf for dinner– or brunch!  My family especially enjoys tearing a loaf in hunks and dipping it in balsamic vinegar and olive oil with sprigs of fresh rosemary.  See How to Sew a Muslin Bread Bag for directions on making the cute fabric bag seen above.

bread snacks

Favorite Buttermilk Bread

With variations for bread sticks, pan rolls, swirl loaves, and more

A versatile dough that can be shaped in multiple ways to form Traditional Pan Loaves, Bosom Loaves, Victorian Loaves, Big Soft Bread Twists, Cinnamon Sugar Wands, Cinnamon Swirl Loaves, Caramel Crown, and Home-Style Buttermilk Pan Rolls.  I’ve also adapted the recipe based on pan size.  It is important to put the correct amount of dough into a loaf pan.  If you aren’t sure what size your loaf pans are, measure them. I submitted an early incarnation of this recipe to Taste of Home magazine; it was featured on the cover in 2002.

bread tutorial

Preparing for Hearth Baking

Do you really “need” a baking stone?
answer: yes!

By “Preparing for Hearth Baking” I am referring to a set of directions a home baker can follow to mimic as closely as possible the hard-to-describe qualities of bread baked in a wood-fired oven. A heavy duty baking stone, following a lengthy heating in a very hot (450 – 500 degree F) oven provides the “hearth.”  Steam is produced using a heated broiler pan, watering can full of hot water, and spray bottle; a rimless baking sheet serves as a baker’s peel, and so on.  These tools are not hard and fast necessities; they are the tools I rely on to bake excellent hearth bread.  “Someday,” Sam tells me, “we will build a brick oven in our front yard.”  Until then, this does the job conveniently.


Bosom Loaves

Shaping variation for Favorite Buttermilk Bread is attractive as well as practical

My Great Grandmother Katerina Kungel and Grandma Emma Blumhardt fashioned their loaves this way.  Both were farmer’s wives in North Dakota and at harvest found themselves feeding hired hands.  Baking was a non-negotiable weekly event if one wanted bread in the house –it wasn’t available at the store like it is now.  Grandma Emma mixed up a generous batch of dough in a red-lipped white enamel washtub reserved expressly for bread.  She covered the rising dough with a piece of plastic that was carefully washed, dried, and re-used from week to week. 


Traditional Pan Loaves

Everyday shaping option for Favorite Buttermilk Bread

Your standard-shaped loaf, perfect for even slices of bread for toast or sandwiches.  The envelope method of folding the dough is easy to master, even for beginning bakers.


Home-Style Buttermilk Pan Rolls

Shaping Variation:  Home-Style Buttermilk Pan Rolls

Tender and faintly sweet, Home-Style Buttermilk Pan Rolls are perfect for a special family gathering.  Once you get the shaping method down pat you’ll find these rolls line up quickly in their baking pan.  The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to preserve a smooth side to each ball of dough and increase the surface tension by pulling and tucking the ends under — this makes for high-rising, well-shaped rolls.  But even if your first batch of rolls are a little uneven I can guarantee they will still taste scrumptious!

1 batch Favorite Buttermilk Bread dough, either size
9″ x 13″ baking pan, greased
2 Tbs butter, melted

Use one-half of the Favorite Buttermilk Bread dough made from the larger recipe for three 9″ x 5″ loaves or two-thirds of the smaller recipe for three 8″ x 4″ loaves.  Lightly grease a clean work surface and divide dough into 24 approximately equal pieces. 

Shape into rolls by gently pulling and tucking cut edges toward the center of the piece and then pinching the seam tightly to form a teardrop.  

Place rolls smooth side up in evenly spaced rows (four by six) in prepared baking pan.    

Cover with a bread cloth or plastic wrap and let rolls rise about 30 minutes, until they’ve barely surpassed the lip of the baking pan.  

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven 30 – 35 minutes.  Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.  Brush with melted butter before serving.  Rolls may be returned to the pan or placed in a towel-lined basket for serving.